Disclaimer: I don't own Hana Yori Dango. :)
AN (1-31-09): This fanfiction is based upon the HYD manga and set during the first HYD Yomikiri that was released in 2006, which is now part of volume 37 of the manga. Thanks again to La Fee Verte for beta reading. Hope you enjoy reading this! -Maho-chan :)
The Bell Tower
A Hana Yori Dango Fanfiction
"The bell tolled and
Two lovers made the solemn vow."
"To bind their hearts together
Their deepest desires
Found in each other."
The afternoon sun colored the elegant dining room in soft muted tones.
Tsukushi watched as Shizuka smiled and whispered in her new husband's ear. Their wedding dinner was much more sedate than Tsukushi had expected. Only a handful of people had come from Japan, including herself.
Shizuka's parents were there as were a few of her extended family members. But besides Tsukushi and the F4, the rest that were present were Shizuka's work colleagues and some family from the groom's side. All in all it was an intimate gathering; something Tsukushi wouldn't have expected for the wedding of one of Japan's most sought after debutantes.
Tsukushi glanced around her and fought the urge to pull out her camera. Everything was so foreign, different and interesting here. She glanced around the table. True to form, Sojiro and Akira had managed to find a French waitress to flirt with. Rui was dutifully eating an appetizer and speaking French with some of Shizuka's lawyer friends. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, except for the scowling idiot who sat next to her.
Tsukushi glanced at Tsukasa, observing the dark look on his face as he spoke on the phone. He hadn't stopped talking on the phone since they had arrived at the reception.
In fact, throughout the actual ceremony, Tsukushi could hear Tsukasa's phone vibrating in his pocket. She wondered which of his many business associates had been calling him. Their calls had been distracting, but thank goodness Shizuka hadn't noticed.
Tsukushi picked at her appetizer, and subtly listened to Tsukasa's conversation.
"No, we'll have to call a meeting on Monday. Yes, I am aware that the CEO is on his vacation. Call him and tell him to come back. We need some verification before we can go through with the deal." Tsukasa barked.
"No more arguments. Just do it. And don't call me anymore today." Tsukasa hung up the phone and glowered at it before dropping it back into his pocket.
Tsukushi watched him out of the corner of her eye. He was talking about work again. And he had been upset the whole evening.
It bothered her to see him so upset. In the short time they had spent together, including those moments in the chapel before the wedding ceremony, she had noticed how stressed he seemed. When he wasn't making calls, he was emailing people via his hi tech cell phone. Much to her surprise, she had even caught him emailing during the wedding ceremony.
Even though he sat next to her now, he still seemed so far away. Tsukushi took a sip of her drink and secretly wished for more moments alone with him. The time they had spent in the chapel hadn't been enough.
She had really missed him. So much that it caused her heart to ache just thinking about it. Tsukushi sighed and took another sip of her drink.
She gave him a sideways look and saw that he was finally beginning to eat.
Maybe she could get his attention now. There was still a little time to be together. Even though they probably couldn't have another moment alone, that didn't mean that they couldn't make the best of it. There were still a few hours left until Tsukasa had to leave for his flight back to New York.
Tsukushi turned to Tsukasa. He glumly picked at his food with a frown on his face.
"Domyoji, have you tried this appetizer yet? It's really delicious." Tsukushi nervously blurted out.
Tsukasa turned to meet her gaze, the angry look still on his face. Tsukushi anxiously tried to smile but ended up looking away.
"It's really a good appetizer. I've never eaten snails before, who knew they would taste so good!" Tsukushi continued, her fingers clenching around her fork. She stared down at her food and swallowed uneasily.
Tsukasa watched her and as he did, his expression softened.
He reached over and removed the fork from her grip.
Tsukushi met his gaze. They staring at each other for a few moments before Tsukushi blushed and looked away again. Tsukasa gave her an inscrutable look and then rose from the table.
"C'mon." He said suddenly as he reached his hand out to her. Tsukushi tentatively put her hand in his. Tsukasa pulled her to her feet, then reached down and grabbed her purse. He handed it to her and began to lead her away from the table.
"Domyoji? Where are we going?" Tsukushi asked, stumbling a little as she walked behind him. He ignored her as he moved towards Shizuka with long strides, with Tsukushi in tow.
As they neared Shizuka, she looked up at them and smiled the bright smile of a happy bride.
"We're going." Tsukasa announced.
Tsukushi gaped at him and blurted out in surprise.
"Wait, Domyoji, why are we leaving now? Shouldn't we stay a little longer?
Tsukasa silenced Tsukushi with another dark look.
"Congratulations." He said bluntly to Shizuka's new husband. As they shook hands, Tsukushi flushed with embarrassment and echoed Tsukasa's well wishes. Shizuka leaned around Tsukasa and smiled at Tsukushi.
"Don't worry Tsukushi-chan." Shizuka said with a kind, understanding smile. "Tsukasa, Tsukushi, thank you for coming all this way. I was glad to see both of you." She continued.
"I was really glad to come to your wedding, congratulations again." Tsukushi replied
Tsukasa simply nodded curtly and then began dragging Tsukushi by the hand to where Sojiro and Akira were sitting.
Tsukushi tripped a little and collided with Tsukasa's back, her hand still tightly held in his. She righted herself and waited for Tsukasa to speak, all the while wondering what he was about.
As they reached Sojiro and Akira, Sojiro smiled knowingly at them.
"Oh, are you leaving?" He coyly inquired.
Tsukasa glared and replied "Yeah. I'll drop her off at the airport tomorrow morning."
"But Tsukasa I thought you were leaving right after the reception and couldn't spend time with us at all." Akira interjected, also looking at them knowingly.
"I'm not leaving tonight." Tsukasa curtly replied. He ignored their raised eyebrows.
"Anyway, we're going now. I'll make sure she gets to the airport tomorrow morning." Tsukasa continued before abruptly turning away.
Akira and Sojiro called after them loudly "Have a good time you two! Don't fight too much or forget to wear protection!" Tsukushi turned crimson and tried to sputter a reply. Tsukasa merely growled and stalked away with her in tow again.
As they quickly strode past the elegantly set tables, Tsukushi cried "Domyoji, where are we going? And how will you take me to the airport tomorrow? Don't you have to leave tonight?" Tsukushi resisted his grip as he continued to tug her along.
"As I said, I'm not leaving tonight. I'll leave after you leave tomorrow." Tsukasa replied. He led her through the rest of the dining room and into the foyer. Pulling out his phone, he called his driver.
Tsukushi gripped his hand and watched him, still not sure what he was planning. But even though his behavior seemed odd, she was glad he had taken her out of there. As much as she had wanted to celebrate Shizuka's wedding, she had wanted to be alone with him more, although she hadn't had the courage to say so.
Her longing for him was almost a physical ache.
As Tsukushi looked out upon the street as they waited for the driver, she squeezed Tsukasa's hand. He glanced down at her and smiled slightly.
She smiled back, not needing to say anything.
Convenience stores in Paris seemed quite different from those in Japan. Tsukushi tapped her heeled shoes on the tiled floor and inspected the displays of fruit. Outside the car waited, as the sky turned a light pink with the coming sunset.
Earlier, after the driver had arrived, they had picked up her things from her hotel. Then they had come here. But why? Had he really wanted a coffee so badly? Feeling confused, Tsukushi absently picked up an apple and halfheartedly felt it. Tsukasa was still being so gruff and strange.
But even so, knowing that he was mere feet away instead of on another continent made her feel so happy.
Tsukasa appeared at her side. "Here." He handed her a small paper bag, then grabbed her arm and began pulling her away from the fruit display.
"What's this?" Tsukushi asked. She was more than a bit mystified. He had barely spoken one word to her on the way here and now he had given her this.
"Where are we going?" She queried. She heard a vibrating sound and glanced at his coat pocket.
"Don't you want to answer it?" Tsukushi inquired.
"No, I don't." Tsukasa responded. He pulled out the phone and pressed the button to shut it off.
They stepped out the open doors of the store and onto the busy street. Tsukasa suddenly turned to Tsukushi.
"Now we can go on a date." He said with a softer expression. Tsukushi blushed and looked up at his face that was silhouetted against the rose colored sky. She wasn't sure what to say. All she knew was that she was incredibly happy.
She clutched the paper bag in her hands and then impulsively raised herself on tiptoes to kiss his cheek. Tsukasa kissed her forehead and then led her to the waiting car. Once inside, they sat close together, their fingertips still entwined.
"Where will we go now?" Tsukushi asked softly, more out of habit than anything. She didn't really care where they went as long as they were together.
Tsukasa gestured to the bag. "Open it." He said just as quietly before pressing his lips to her temple. She did as he requested and as she poured the contents of the bag out onto her lap, she felt a little lurch in her stomach.
There in her lap was several rolls of film.
"Arc de Triomphe." Tsukasa said to the driver as he watched the play of emotions on Tsukushi's face.
The car sped off down the busy street.
"Makino, why don't you stand over there?" Tsukasa suggested as he pointed the camera in her direction. Tsukushi looked to where he was gesturing. She stood over near the small chapel's altar and gave him a masklike smile.
They had been doing this for hours. He had taken her picture everywhere, the Eiffel Tower, the Lourve, and of course, the Arc de Triomphe. They had taken outdoor photos until it had become twilight and then they had come inside to lighted museums and churches to take more. The church they stood in now had been an interesting find, nestled as it was in one of the famous old neighborhoods.
Tsukasa had taken so many pictures of Tsukushi and had also reluctantly allowed her to take some of him as well.
Through it all, Tsukushi kept smiling, even though her heart was beginning to ache again. She could almost feel the time slipping away.
She moved towards Tsukasa and took the camera from him.
"Why don't you stand over there?" She pointed to a large sculpture and tried to smile cheerfully.
He followed suit, his slight smile not quite reaching his eyes. "
Over near this ugly thing?" Tsukasa queried. He raised an eyebrow at Tsukushi.
"It's great art!" Tsukushi said with false cheer, working on focusing her camera.
"Oh? How do you know?" Tsukasa retorted.
Tsukushi stuck her tongue out at him and waved a piece of paper at him. "I read the informational pamphlet about it."
Tsukasa smirked, but obediently went to stand near the painting. Tsukushi looked at his face through the camera lens and paused.
He gazed at her through the camera, not smiling. As his expression slowly grew ever more sad, Tsukushi snapped the picture quickly. Her throat felt a little constricted. Her eyesight momentarily blurred.
"Let's go look at that!" Tsukushi announced loudly. She waved her hand in the direction of a golden gate behind the altar. Tsukasa followed her and commented "Hey, aren't you talking too loud?"
"But there is no one else here right now!" Tsukushi replied, noting that most of the other tourists had probably left for their dinner plans.
She wandered over to the golden gate and peered through it as though it was the most interesting thing she had ever seen. Tsukasa came up behind her and took her hand in his again. Just behind the golden bars, an old dilapidated wooden staircase could be seen rising into a dark passage.
"What is this? Looks old and dirty." Tsukasa mumbled.
Tsukushi turned and waved a finger at him "Of course it's old! It's historic." She said in the same falsely cheerful voice that she had been attempting all evening. She swallowed back the lump that kept forming in her throat.
"His..what?" Tsukasa said, looking a little perplexed. Tsukushi pointed at date on the bronze plaque next to the gate. "Historic." She repeated. "See! Look at this." She began to read aloud from her pamphlet, thankful again that they had included Japanese as one of the translations.
"The bell tower behind this golden gate is said to bestow blessings. Churchgoers say that whoever climbs the tower with the person they love and speaks a vow with them, will find that their vow will be binding and true. The bell tower is also said to grant wishes." Tsukushi looked at Tsukasa with wide eyes. Tsukasa gazed down at her looking equally surprised.
"It grants wishes? Is it because it is haunted?" Tsukasa asked, looking alarmed. Tsukushi shook her head and reassured him
"I don't think it's haunted. It's just supposed to be magical somehow."
Tsukasa looked through the gate warily and said, "Seems pretty dumb. I'm not interested."
Tsukushi ignored him as she read the rest of the explanation of the legend in the pamphlet. One sentence in particular stood out to her.
"This church is said to protect and help people with great challenges." Tsukushi read quietly. She glanced up at the passage to the top of the bell tower. Even though she knew it was probably just a story to entertain tourists, she couldn't help feeling a little curious. And more than a little bit wishful.
Tsukushi turned back to Tsukasa and impulsively asked
"Hey, do you want to try it?"
Tsukasa replied "Go up that scary old staircase? Are you crazy? No way." He grabbed her hand and began to lead her away. Tsukushi wistfully glanced behind her at the golden gate as he led her to another corner of the old church.
When they finally emerged from the small church, it was already night.
Their dinner had been a tense affair, with very little spoken between them. But afterwards, as they had begun wandering the city again, Tsukushi felt a little better.
The patisserie they were in now was small and very quaint. Tsukushi gaped at the small carefully decorated slices of cake in the display, inwardly weighing which one to get. Next to her, Tsukasa watched quietly.
Had her hair always been this long? Her expression was so funny as always. And she looked so pretty in the dress that he had bought her, Tsukasa mused.
"Makino, just pick one." Tsukasa suggested, as he started to feel impatient.
"But they are all so lovely!" Tsukushi exclaimed. "Are you going to have one too?" She peered closely at the cakes again.
Tsukasa gazed down at her, consciously memorizing her features. He squeezed her hand and then glanced at his watch.
It was 10 pm.
He swallowed back the bittersweet emotion that had been plaguing him all night.
"Are you going to have one or not?" Tsukushi asked again.
"I hate sweets." Tsukasa said gruffly. His impatience grew as she pressed closer to him, her hair giving off the familiar scent of her shampoo.
Tsukushi continued to look at the cakes, pressing her fingertips against the cold glass. Engrossed with choosing between them, she let go of Tsukasa's hand for a moment in order to inspect one at the far corner of the display case.
As her hand left his, Tsukasa suddenly snapped.
"We'll buy one of all of them." Tsukasa ordered loudly in French. He grabbed his wallet and handed the clerk a wad of cash, not bothering to count it. He then grabbed Tsukushi's hand back and gripped it hard before barking at the clerk.
"Wrap them up and hurry!"
The man nodded and began pulling slices of cake from the case.
"We'll be outside, just bring them to us when you are done wrapping them." Tsukasa said as he tugged Tsukushi out the door.
"Hey, what did you just say? Are we buying them all?" Tsukushi asked as Tsukasa led her towards the car.
When he didn't answer, she cried "Domyoji!"
She pulled on his hand and dug in her heels, trying to get him to stop.
"You don't need to buy all the cakes. I only wanted one!" She exclaimed, resisting his forward stride as much as she could.
Tsukasa whirled around and suddenly yelled "That's not the point!"
Tsukushi jumped with surprise then shouted back
"Why are you yelling at me?"
"I can't stand it anymore!" Tsukasa roared, breathing hard.
Tsukushi gave him a confused look and cried "What are you talking about? If you wanted me to hurry and choose a piece of cake, why didn't you just say so?"
"Stupid, it's not that." Tsukasa retorted. He sullenly gazed away from her and into the distance.
"What is it then?" Tsukushi asked. She moved in front of him and tried to catch his gaze. "What?"
He was holding her hand so tightly it almost hurt.
She shook his arm with her other hand. "Domyoji!" He continued to stand there frozen like a statue. Tsukushi reached up and tried to shake his shoulder. She touched his cheek, trying to get him to look at her. And then suddenly she was pressed up against him as he let go of her hand and pulled her into his arms.
Tsukasa held Tsukushi up against him, her feet lifted off the sidewalk and his arms wrapped her waist. He kissed her hard, nuzzling her face and coaxing her mouth open to deepen the kiss.
Tsukushi blushed and gripped Tsukasa's shoulders. She kissed him back, letting his lips roam across hers until they were both breathless.
It felt as though time had stopped.
Until Tsukasa let out a choked noise and broke away. He gazed into Tsukushi's eyes, still holding her against his body.
"Makino, I can't stand it anymore." He said ardently.
She passively nodded, still dazed from the kiss and not quite understanding his meaning.
"We don't have to eat cake. I just thought it might be fun. And the patisserie was so cute." She said absently.
"It's not about the cake. It's ten o'clock." Tsukasa said. His breath was warm against her face. She could smell the familiar scent of his cologne.
"It's late…" He couldn't quite say what he wanted to say. "Tomorrow morning I have to take you…" He broke off suddenly, another lump having formed in his throat.
Tsukushi nodded, understanding what he meant. In eight hours they would be parted again. She felt an ache where her heart was.
Tsukushi wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek against his.
"I-I want to go back to my room now." Tsukasa said hoarsely into her ear. He kissed the soft skin of her neck, breathing in her scent, and then leaned away to gaze into her eyes.
"We should go now." He suggested, wanting to be close to her so badly that it hurt.
Tsukushi blushed and silently nodded again. She could feel a myriad of emotions beginning to overwhelm her.
Tears came to her eyes and she tried to blink them away. She didn't speak for fear of crying.
Tsukasa swallowed and asked. "It's okay, isn't it?"
There was so much longing in his voice. Tsukushi nodded one more time. She wrapped her arms tighter around his neck and pressed her face against his collar.
Tsukasa shifted her so that she was cradled in his arms. Tsukushi continued to hide her face, unable to look at him.
Tsukasa began to carry her to the car, his vision blurring a little.
And the patisserie clerk silently hurried after them, several dozen slices of cake in the boxes in his arms.
Tsukushi couldn't remember any of the details of how they got to the hotel, didn't even know where they were. All she knew was the feeling of Tsukasa's fervent kisses and warm embrace, anchoring her to the moment.
The bed was soft but it didn't matter. The only light was from the streetlamps outside and that didn't matter as well. All that mattered was that when she reached for him he was there. And when she cried out for him, he came closer and closer still.
Everything else ceased to exist for her in that moment. There was no Japan and no America in that room. There was no Eitoku University or Domyoji Group. There was no video phone.
There was only him.
His body moved over hers and she welcomed it, cradled it with her own. His lips searched and roamed over hers and she followed suit, as their bodies restlessly moved together.
She tried to her hardest to memorize every heady sensation, every ardently whispered word and every passionate kiss so that she could save the memories to comfort herself in the later when they had parted again.
Tears came to her eyes and she tried not to cry again, but they fell anyway as she clung to him. She cried even as her body trembled with joy. And then she kissed the tears from his cheeks as he shivered against her as well.
They lay on their sides, still holding each other tightly.
Tsukasa nuzzled Tsukushi's collarbone and moved to kiss her earlobe. As he did, he inadvertently glanced over Tsukushi's bare shoulder.
The clock read 1:30 am.
Pulling her closer, he made a strangled noise and reached an arm out behind her.
The clock hit the wall hard, shattering into several pieces.
Tsukushi didn't ask as Tsukasa buried his face in her neck. She just held him closer as he gasped hoarsely against her soft skin.
Tsukushi's eyes closed as she kissed the top of his head, her breath coming in painful, aching gasps as well.
They dressed slowly in the darkened room, their fingers fumbling, betraying their reluctance. Tsukushi smoothed Tsukasa's shirt as he reached behind her to zip up her dress. She finger combed his hair as he reached for her little jacket. He knelt and placed the heeled shoes on her feet. As they stood, she put his cell phone in his pocket.
Not once did they glance at the pain on each other's faces.
Hand in hand they crept out of the room and into the still dark night.
The city streets were almost deserted.
The car sped along, spurred on by Tsukasa's quietly spoken order. Tsukushi barely listened to what it was. All she knew was that it was four am.
Only two hours left.
She leaned her cheek against his shoulder and watched the streetlights zoom past the window. She tiredly closed her eyes for what seemed like a second.
And then suddenly they were there.
The knock at the door of pastor's small cottage came as no surprise to him, even this early in the morning. He carefully adjusted his clothing and then opened it to find a tall curly haired Japanese man and a petite Japanese woman standing nervously on his doorstep.
The pastor was used to having unexpected visitors. Every few years he inevitably found a desperate couple on his doorstep, always seeking the same favor.
They usually couldn't speak French, and came from all around the world. Even so, he always knew what they had come for.
They always wanted to climb the legendary bell tower.
The bell tower was often discovered by them during tours of the historic neighborhood that surrounded the church. Visitors always peered through the golden gates and more often than not, would laugh and scoff at the romantic legend at first.
But nevertheless, some of them would inevitably come back to ask for a second chance. He was never exactly sure why they came. But they always did.
The curly haired man spoke the expected request in simple French then. The pastor smiled and nodded, then pulled a key off of a hook near the door.
He stepped past the couple and then beckoned for them to follow him. There was a faint mist covering the churchyard. The sky was beginning to lighten.
The pastor glanced back at the couple behind him.
They seemed so young compared to the other couples who had come before them. But then again, wasn't love an ageless thing?
He smiled comfortingly to them and beckoned again for them to continue to follow him.
Through the churchyard they strode past old graves and stone statues. The huge church doors creaked as the pastor opened them. The young couple flinched at the sound.
The pastor smiled again and said comfortingly in French.
"Do not be afraid."
As he stepped into the church, he heard the man translate his words for the woman. He glanced behind again, and was satisfied to see them following closely.
They crept down the aisle and past the altar, Tsukasa's shuffling gait and the click of Tsukushi's heels the only noticeable sound. Candlelight flickered on the church walls. The entrance to the bell tower was just ahead, hidden behind the altar and the gold plated gate.
Reaching the gate, the pastor pulled out the old, worn key and unlocked it. He opened the golden gate wide and nodded to Tsukasa and Tsukushi. They glanced at each other tentatively then stepped forward together.
They slowly crept past the pastor, pausing once to bow politely to him. And then they began to ascend, Tsukasa leading as he held Tsukushi's hand tightly. As they disappeared up the creaky steps, the pastor pressed his hands together in a benediction for them.
"It takes great courage to love." He thought with the wisdom of ages.
The pastor closed his eyes and whispered a few more words to himself. He then turned and walked over to one of the pews to wait. They would be a while yet, he anticipated. He calmly began to pray.
Tsukushi could barely see in the darkness. She gripped the back of Tsukasa's shirt and concentrated on feeling the steps before her.
Left foot first, then right foot, and then again. Try not to stumble, she told herself.
Tsukasa's hand still gripped hers hard.
Climbing to the bell tower behind him felt like she was walking in the deepest darkest of nights. And if that were so, then he was her torch, showing her the way and guiding her forward.
Tsukasa glanced behind him at Tsukushi's bowed head and then looked up the small corridor ahead of him. He could barely see her in the gloom. But he held her hand a little tighter, knowing he would never let himself let go of her.
Glimmers of the dawn began to sparkle just above them.
Higher and higher they climbed, until those glimmers were in reach. Realizing they were almost there, Tsukasa took a deep breath and pulled them both forward with his determined strides.
Left, right, again and again, they carefully climbed the last of the small, rickety stairs.
And found themselves in a chamber of growing light.
The bell was cracked, betraying its great age. Tsukasa doubted it could make a sound. He touched it tentatively, pretending not to watch Tsukushi as she gazed out the tower and over the city.
The sky was a golden color, light swiftly coming upon the sleeping populace below them. Above them, a dove cooed in the eaves. Tsukushi gazed down at her hands and wondered what she should do next.
Silence ensued. After a few moments, Tsukasa broke the quietude with his softly spoken words.
She turned slowly, her face lit by the soft morning light.
"What do we do now?"
Tsukushi tilted her head and thought for a moment. "I'm not sure."
"You're not sure?" Tsukasa asked incredulously. "But you were the one who originally wanted to come up here."
"I know but I don't really know what to do. All I remember is that the legend said something about vows." Tsukushi looked back out over the city, thinking about this.
Tsukasa watched her, memorizing how the light played against her brown hair. He came towards her.
"Vows huh?" He took her arm and led her closer to the bell. He looked around him and muttered "In this scary place of all places."
"What are you muttering about?" Tsukushi asked. Tsukasa looked down at her. He held her shoulders and pulled her closer.
"What kind of vows should we say?" He said as he looked at her in the same pained way she was looking at him.
Tsukushi was the first to falter and look away. "We don't have to say any vows, stupid, I was just curious about this place. It's not that great anyway. I mean, it's not as if there are really legends that can protect people in love." She said pessimistically.
"As if there are challenges that can just be wished away."
She continued before glumly looking out at the city below. Hating that sad look on her face, Tsukasa stepped forward to pull her into an embrace.
Only to falter as Tsukushi suddenly put up her fists up to hold him away. Braced against him, Tsukushi narrowed her eyes at his chest and then said in an achingly slow way.
"Why is it like this?"
Tsukasa was taken aback.
"Why…" She repeated in a low voice, her expression growing angry. She took a deep breath, and then looked up at him with fiery eyes.
"I said why do we have to do this? Why did you decide without me?" Her voice became louder, filling the small chamber.
"What in the world are you talking about?" Tsukasa responded just as loudly.
"I didn't want you to go. You promised you'd be with me after you regained your memory. But then you went ahead and left for America." She said angrily, her hands trembling against his chest. She blinked a few times and then suddenly shouted.
"Stupid Domyoji Tsukasa!"
Tsukasa stared at her with wide, horrified eyes.
"Makino, why are you fighting with me about this now? I thought you understood my decision!" Tsukasa yelled back as he gripped her wrists.
"You moron! How can I understand it? You just decided on your own." Tsukushi hissed. She didn't know why she was so furious, but as she looked at him, ever conscious of the quickly passing time, she felt even more angry.
Tsukushi backed away and raised her fist. Recognizing her trademark battle stance, Tsukasa stepped back instinctively. Tsukushi launched herself forward, her fist aiming for his cheek. Tsukasa caught her fist in his palm and wrapped an arm around her in one quick movement.
He held her from behind as she fought against him. "Stupid, moron, idiot." The bitter words tumbled from her mouth as she struggled to get free from him.
"Makino stop it!" Tsukasa exclaimed as he tightened his grip.
He bent his head and said gruffly in her ear. "You are the stupid one."
Tsukushi kicked his shin. He winced but continued to hold her tightly.
"I'm not, you are! You always are!" She cried. "Always stupidly doing whatever you want without a care. The almighty Domyoji Tsukasa."
"Do you really think this is what I want? Do you really think I did this without a care?" Tsukasa growled in her ear. He turned her around and held her shoulders. "Do you?" He yelled, his eyes narrowing.
Tsukushi looked up at him petulantly.
Tsukasa cursed under his breath. He shook her shoulders a little as he bit out. "This is so dumb." He let her go and stepped back. His fist clenched and relaxed then clenched again.
"Tsukushi." His voice was dangerously low. "I'll tell you why I am doing this." He nearly snarled.
Tsukushi took a deep breath, her expression still fierce.
"Do you know what my dream is?" He asked in that same dangerously low voice.
Tsukushi looked away. "Not really." She mumbled.
"My dream is to be with you." He bluntly uttered.
She didn't answer as she continued to look away. Tsukasa moved forward to cup her chin in his hand and force her to look at him.
"Didn't I tell you that before?" He asked accusingly. She paused then nodded stubbornly. He took a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself and then continued.
"Makino, it wasn't just because my dad collapsed and needed me to step in and take over the company. It was because I realized something." His tone was still gruff but slightly calmer.
Tsukasa cupped her cheek in his palm and caressed the soft skin with his thumb as he began to explain.
"I realized that if I took control of the company, then I could be in control of my life. And I realized that when I was in control of my life, I wouldn't have anyone or anything standing in the way of being with you. Not my mother, nor my father. Not men with knives or amnesia. I'd be able to protect you and provide for you. For the rest of our lives."
He took another deep breath and then continued in a heated tone. "I hate this too. Every day I want to come home. Every day, every hour, every minute, every second, until I think I'm going crazy. I stare at Nishida when he waits on me and I want to kill him. I want to throw my university books out windows and punch my teachers. I want to set fire to the boardroom and my stupid place in it. Because I see these things every day and they aren't you!"
Tsukasa closed his eyes as he tried to compose himself once more.
He said in a softer voice. "You want time to stop. But I want time to move faster. So fast that this stupid torture ends. So fast that I'll be home before you know it and it will be as if we were never apart in the first place."
Tsukasa hugged her to him then, pressing her face into his chest. He trembled noticeably.
Inside the warm circle of his embrace, Tsukushi closed her eyes. She slowly wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Oh." She said softly to herself.
"Is that all you can say?" Tsukasa said incredulously.
Tsukushi shook her head and then raised it from his chest. She looked up at him with those same fiery eyes from before.
Tsukasa raised an eyebrow at her, wondering what she was about.
Slowly but surely Tsukushi began to smile.
"Oh." She repeated, looking at him as though she didn't quite recognize him.
Tsukasa waited for her to continue.
"You've matured." She unexpectedly said. She gazed up at him with a growing look of awe.
Tsukasa glared at her, "I've always been mature." He retorted.
"No you haven't." Tsukushi said in that same astonished tone. Her smile slowly grew.
Tsukasa watched her in bewilderment. He loosened his grip and she took a step back, still looking at him. And then she unexpectedly said.
"What do you mean YOSH?" Tsukasa stared at her. "What are you all cheerful about all of a sudden?"
Tsukushi fearlessly met his gaze. "We'll do what you said." She declared.
"HAH?" Tsukasa exclaimed. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Tsukushi pumped her fist in the air. "My idea didn't work. So we'll try to make time go faster."
"Are you crazy?" Tsukasa exclaimed.
"No, somehow I just regained my weed power." Tsukushi said resolutely. She pointed in his face. "Domyoji, I'm going to stop being sad." She raised her chin. "I'm going to be working hard in Japan." Tsukushi declared with determination. "I'm going to get my university degree, go to work and get ready day by day."
"Huh? What? Get ready for what?" Her suddenly elated mood confused him. Tsukasa couldn't quite follow what she was trying to say.
Tsukushi let out a little hysterical laugh. She poked him in the chest with her index finger and narrowed her eyes at him.
"Idiot, I'm going to get ready for you to come home to me." She said bluntly.
Tsukasa's eyes widened as he comprehended. He let out a little laugh as he engulfed her in another tight embrace.
"So it's another challenge then." Tsukasa said, his chin resting on her head.
"Ymfph." Tsukushi responded, her words muffled against his chest. She raised her head and said loudly "Yes."
"Okay." Tsukasa said quietly. As the brevity of her words sunk in, he began to grin.
"Then I'm going to prepare as well." Tsukasa declared loudly. He loosened his embrace and rested his hands on her shoulders. He gazed into her eyes with equal conviction.
"So you had better be ready when I come home to you!" Tsukasa threatened.
"For the rest of our lives." He added meaningfully.
Tsukushi nodded as tears began to form in her eyes.
Tsukasa cupped her face in his palms and bent to kiss her. Before his lips touched hers, he whispered ardently.
Tsukushi closed her eyes as she whispered her fervent reply.
Their lips touched and they kissed gently, affectionately, and deeply, sealing their vow.
The pastor looked up as Tsukasa and Tsukushi emerged from the bell tower. They were smiling. They ran past him quickly, still holding hands. And as they reached the door, Tsukushi suddenly looked over her shoulder, waved and shouted in Japanese.
The pastor smiled and nodded.
They disappeared into the light of outside as the bell in the tower mysteriously began to ring. The sound of the great bell filled the church and it's surrounds as Tsukasa and Tsukushi ran in the morning sunlight, still hand in hand.
The pastor calmly knelt before the altar and whispered another blessing and a prayer of thanks. Above the ancient bell tower continued to toll, the lilting tones marking the magic of the new day.