Disclaimer: I don't own Skip Beat!
A/n: Thank you for taking time to read this story
Warning: May be OOC and there is a change in the style of writing compared to the previous chapter (more talking, less thinking)
He stepped into the lift, tired from a morning of hard work. He was alone in the lift, his manager just left, saying that there was an emergency but he would be back soon. He leaned back against the wall, savouring a moment of peacefulness.
Are you watching over us? I'm fine now. We're fine. I'm also getting proper meals, so you don't have to worry about that as well… You see, the reason for that is because of our…
The lift doors opened and straightening out imaginary crumples on his shirt, he made his way out.
Startled at that familiar voice calling, he turned. Upon seeing that familiar face, his face broke into a smile, thoughts of how tired he was gone. He bent down slightly and stretched out his arms, into which the little girl came flying into, and whirled around. She loved that. It made her feel as if she were flying.
Passers-by gaped at the sight of THE Tsuruga Ren hugging his little girl. It was not as common now that Maria has grown too big for those flying hugs she loved so much.
But he was oblivious to this, he was too busy enjoying the moment. It was like a little ritual they do everyday, but ever since he had agreed to do the new drama, she was always asleep by the time he reached home and still asleep when he left for work.
"Papa," she said, in a serious tone, when they broke apart, "Have you eaten?"
She's just like Kyouko. That was what she always asked me.
Clearing his throat, as they made their way, with him carrying her, towards a guilty-looking Yashiro, he tried to explain in a way that would clear him of all blame. "Well, actually I'm on my way to the cafeteria now. The scene took longer than expected to wrap up. Also…"
She cut in, shaking her head severely, "Papa… It's 3p.m now. Why didn't you eat while filming? Godpapa said they provided bento sets."
She looks so disappointed. That Yashiro is going to pay for this.
Then she smiled, clapping her hands happily, "Luckily, I've prepared something for you to eat! Obaa-chan helped me, but only a bit. I made most of it myself!" She looked proud of herself.
"Godpapa! Godpapa! Where's my bento box?" He let her down and watch as she tug on the bag Yashiro was carrying.
Yashiro gulped, as he caught a glimpse of Ren's face.
"Why did you bring Hikari here? Isn't she supposed to be at Darumaya?
Though Ren did not ask those questions aloud, Yashiro could practically hear him interrogating him in his mind.
Yashiro hurriedly explained, "You should know! Look at your daughter! You can't say 'No' to her, she has got your smile… positively demonic smile." He mumbled the last bit, shuddering.
"Sorry? I didn't catch the last bit there." His smile stretched wider, scaring his already visibly shaken manager.
"I-I said 'that positively angelic smile'. W-Who can r-resist? Hikari, do you want ice-cream?"
"Hai, strawberry, please!" She smiled at her Godpapa.
Yashiro hurried away, anxious to get away from this demonic father-daughter duo.
"Papa! Let's go eat!" She tugged on his hand, leading the way towards the cafeteria.
The three of them sat comfortably, Hikari licking her ice-cream happily, Ren admiring his food and Yashiro taking in deep breaths, while holding his coffee, to calm himself down.
"Papa! Are you going to eat it or not? Why do you keep staring at the food but not eating? Don't you like it?" She pouted.
"No, of course I want to eat it! I'm just very happy. This is the first time, afterall, my Hikari cooked for me. So I have to admire it first. I'll eat it now, alright? Itadakimasu!"
Look at our Hikari. Only 7 but already capable of cooking. She is so much like you. She has your long, black hair, your sincere eyes, your loving heart and to be honest, even your weird tendency to talk to yourself.
"I'm talking to my demons." She always says that whenever I see her talking to thin air. I wonder if this is just a phase, or if it is hereditary.
He took in his first mouthful.
But one thing that she definitely got from me, aside from my smile as Yashiro had said, is my talent for cooking, meaning none.
The food tasted horrible.
"How does it taste?" She asked eagerly.
Choking back his mouthful, "It tastes great! Did you really do all this by yourself?"
Nodding her head happily, "Yes! I did! Hurry, eat it all up!"
Looking at the daunting task ahead of him, he groaned inwardly. Is this punishment for skipping my lunch?
He swore silently that he would never skip a meal again.
After managing to finish off his meal, the three of them walked around the lobby of LME in comfortable silence, with Hikari in the middle, holding hands with both of her 'Papas'. Ren needed to walk off his indigestion.
"Hmm…? What's the matter?"
"Why don't I have a Mama?"
The dull ache in his heart, which had been there ever since he lost her, sharpened again as memories of the past came flooding back.
She continued, "Because in school, during Teacher-Parents meetings, the other kids are always with their Papa and Mama. I mean: it is quite interesting to see the faces of the other kids and their parents when they see you, Grandpapa and even Godmama, but why? Why is Mama never there?"
She was right about one thing. A Teacher-Parents meeting is a family affair. The whole family turns out in full force.
He hesitated; he wasn't expecting to answer this question until later. Much later. He looked at Yashiro for help. Yashiro looked right ahead, pretending not to have heard anything. He was on his own.
He stopped walking, and bent down until he was at her level. "Hikari… it's not that Mama doesn't want to be there. She wants to be there. She wants to be here, she wants to be with you all the time. But… but, she can't… She… She's busy with something now, so she has asked me to be your Papa and Mama for now! Is that okay?"
For all his acting skills, he was finding it hard to convince that one little girl. Luckily, she decided to accept his explanation, for now. They resumed their stroll.
Not now, I'll tell her when she's older… Not now.
After a while, she spoke up again, "Papa, why did you marry Mama?"
She's only 7! How does she know about things like 'marriage'?
He needs to have a talk with her teacher about the things they teach in school these days.
"Well, because I love your Mama." He decided to put things simply.
She nodded her head thoughtfully. "I see… Is that why Godpapa and Godmama aren't married?"
The look of horror on Yashiro's face made him feel vindicated. But Ren choked back on his laughter, especially since his daughter had such a serious expression on her face.
"Ah-hem… yes, because they don't love each other enough to marry."
Yashiro and Kanae did try dating, back then before Hikari was born. But it just didn't work out. They were better as friends. Now that each has found other people instead, they were much happier.
"I see… So you have to love the other person before you can marry…" She mumbled to herself. Then she looked up to her father and declared, "Well, then I'm not going to marry Jun-kun! Because I don't love him!"
His eyes widened. Who the hell is Jun?
He looked at Yashiro for help again. This time he complied. "You have got to start observing people around you and stop taking me as a human search engine… Hideaki Jun, aged 10, next-door neighbours to Darumaya. He often goes over to Darumaya to play with Hikari."
Now he also needs to have a talk with those neighbours of Boss and Okami-san.
Yashiro continued, "Anyway, I'd better take Hikari back now. You have a meeting with the President in about 10 minutes' time, so…" He took a few steps back, giving them a little privacy, though as if anything can be kept from those prying ears and eyes.
He bent down to his daughter's level again, smiling at her, though he felt sad to part from her. "I promise, I'll be back early tonight."
Her amber eyes lit up with joy. "Really? You promise?"
"Hai. I promise. I always keep my promises, right?"
Smiling happily now, she put out her little pinkie finger, hooking with his big pinkie finger.
Standing alone once again in the lift, on the way up to the President's office, he gently stroked his pinkie finger and smiled.
I'll keep my promise. I always keep my promises.
They sat under the big oak tree in the middle of the lush, green field, watching a family of four happily playing with their kites. His arms were wrapped around her, and she leaned back against him. It has been such a long time since they sat together like this.
"Is it alright? Leaving her alone like this…" She asked worriedly.
The man smiled at his wife's unnecessary worrying again. "Alone? She's hardly alone… Look at her children! They're so big now. And her husband… I would have never given her away to him if I found him to be incapable of taking care of my daughter. She'll be all right…"
"Big? 12 and 10 years old are hardly considered to be big! But I guess you're right about her husband. He looks capable enough…" She nodded her head in approval of her daughter's choice.
She smiled, watching her daughter, son-in-law and her grandchildren as they flew their kites up high.
She brought her hand to her lips and blew a kiss in their direction.
The woman suddenly felt a breeze tickle at her neck. It felt warm and pleasant. Wondering where the warm breeze came from, she looked around and saw the oak tree.
There wasn't anyone there.
"Hikari? What's the matter, dear? Your kite's falling…" Hikari turned around and smiled apologetically at her husband.
"Sorry, Jun. I thought… never mind, it's nothing. Anyway, we'd better start packing up. We're meeting Maria-neechan and her family for dinner tonight!"
The family started packing up their things. As they made their way to the car, Hikari lagged behind. The oak tree made her feel…
"Okaa-san! Are you coming?" She smiled at her kids, who were already by the car, waving to her eagerly.
She wasn't sure why. But she turned around and faced the tree again. Then she smiled, brought her hand to her lips and blew a kiss.
The oak tree made her feel at home.
They watched as their daughter turned, smiled and blew a kiss at them. They smiled.
"Do you think she knows we're here?" the man asked.
"Who knows? But I think she does…" the woman smiled.
They stood now, hand in hand, watching the car leave. She turned and caught her husband looking at her.
"What are you staring at?"
"Nothing… I just missed you so much."
She smiled that heavenly smile, which had caught his attention once, a long time ago, and never let go.
"I love you, Corn"
"I love you too, Bo"
Their Hikari is going to be fine now. She was proud of her husband. He had kept his promise. Their child grew up healthy, and most importantly…
A/n: This is the last chapter. Thank you for reading and reviewing my work. All thoughts and feedback in the form of a review are greatly appreciated. Once more, you may dislike my work, but please don't hate it. I have a phobia of people saying that to me. I hoped you enjoed reading this =)