Jezz: Well. Seems I haven't updated for so damn long. Sorry. Really. I can't express how shit I must have been. Truth be told, I lost interest in writing this story. But the main reason I stopped is because of my grades- they were falling, and I couldn't take much more pressure. To be honest, I've missed this account. So, so much. Thank you to all who have favourited and messaged. I've come back as a slightly stronger writer, and will no longer delay your new chapter.
Chapter 2: Long awaited arrivals.
"The only constant in life is change."
At first, it was too huge a shock to comprehend.
The air was tense- especially amongst the F4, who had not the slightest clue on how to start up a conversation with this particular old friend. Tsukushi, on the other hand, was simply bright as always. With the slight wave of a hand, she bounded over to the rest of the guys, her perfected media smile in its place. Over the years, she had matured.
At least, that's what she knew- she was a lesser version of her past self. Smiles that came naturally to her now had to be forced; the simple feeing of being content was not felt for so long.
"Ah, F4, it's so nice to see you again," Her voice is soft, gentler- but stranger than ever before, "though, I suppose it really shouldn't be."
Domyouji Tsukasa's mouth could have housed more than 20 flies.
"You... Woman," he splutters, "what the hell is wrong with you?!"
Ever the public porcelain doll these days, Tsukushi offers another smile- one so brilliantly faked, it looked almost real.
If there was one thing Tsukushi had been forced to learn was to smile through any kind of shit thrown her way. It was her lifeline within the industry- behind the glamoured shine and impossible fame lay a dark place. It was an industry where every move you made was watched, both by the public and the directors of the whole facade. Everyone was watching, always.
Looking around subtly, Tsukushi spotted a photographer about 20 meters away from them, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
So she gave it to him.
"Haha, guys, I'm going to need you to looked over there," she says, tilting her head in the direction, "'cause if you haven't noticed, there's a sneaky photographer that wants my photo."
At least she still had her cheekiness.
Yuki looks towards her best friend, startled- since when did the camera shy Tsukushi changed this much? She thought. However, what she saw next was what truly alarmed her to Tsukushi's change- When their eyes met, Tsukushi's smile, light-hearted chatting and energetic appearance was marred by the exhaustion in her near-dead eyes.
"Tsukushi..." She breathes, her heart wrenching.
A slightly distracted 'Hmm?' was thrown back in her direction, but Tsukushi seemed more focused on the task at hand.
Even Tsukushi looked a little startled- she had only expected and seen one camera out, not over 30 people trying to get her mug shot for the front page of whatever newspaper.
"Ara, ara..." She sighs through the wide smile.
Yuki's eyes never left her face.
Hanazawa had a lot to think about.
Hanazawa Rui had a lot to think about.
Even as he lolled on his grandiose sofa with all the trimmings- soft, goose-down pillows, cushy arm rests, and not to mention the face it could freaking contort; he was thinking. Yeah, Rui thought a lot. But mostly, what he thought about was music, or sleeping. Or, in some rare cases, things that would make him flush red even if he were to think about them now- the boy was cool and calm as ever, but even he had his weaknesses.
What he was thinking about was her.
The one Domyouji Tsukasa- his best friend- had cruelly snatched away from him once, before driving her off with some stupid comment.
He remembers that day quite clearly- her distant eyes had not shed a single tear, but he could tell from the redness that she had already been there; done that. Her face was paler than usual, and when she spoke, it was the roughish and blunt voice he knew well, but dulled. He can still see the look in her eyes- hurt and pissed, she was in no state to deal with Tsukasa's shit.
And the boy had gone too far.
Just a little.
Okay, maybe he was always going a little too far.
But this too far had cost all of them dearly- their supporter, the kind girl who had stood up for them whilst they were ridiculed for some reason or another, had taken those harsh words to heart. The insult hurled at her had been something said to her many times by others. He knew the moment he heard those words let rip from that idiot Tsukasa's mouth that it was going to hit home. And it did, home run and all. He knew Tsukushi was strong, especially with such things, but when told that by someone who was supposedly in love with her, she had recoiled.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, Rui rolls over, grabbing a strange object.
"You've changed, Tsukushi." he mumbles into the stuffed Totoro, auburn hair getting even more mussed than before.
His words rang clearly in the empty room.
"Why did you go?" He asks no one in particular.
'Did you know how much I had missed you?'
"Tsukasa's words were harsh, but usually you're made of tougher stuff."
'Was it because you loved him so much?'
"Then after all this time, why did you come back?"
'It still hurts me to see you.'
"... And why am I talking to a stuffed toy? Just because you gave it to me doesn't mean it's special."
'God, I'm in denial.'
"I'm totally not in denial."
'I probably am.'
If any of the Hanazawa servants were nearby the room, they would have gotten a heart attack from the frustrated 'GAH!' let out by the usually stoic and kind young master of the house, and then died after seeing their beloved master hitting his head against the bricked walls. With his precious stuffed toy flung to the ground in a huffy childishness.
Shizuka sits with a rather tense F4, Tsukushi's quick disappearance taking the reporters and photographers away from them.
A cold silence fills the room.
"It's been a long time since we last saw her."
Yuki remains silently worried, her furrowed brows not unnoticed by Akira. Or Soujiro for that matter. However, neither said a word, not daring to start an unwanted conversation with this old friend either. Yuki looked up and met their gazes coolly, as she always did.
"I'm net exactly part of 'we'." She says shortly, gaze softening when she sees Tsubaki's stricken face.
"Don't call me so closely." The frosty tone is a slap to every single one of them. Once upon a time, the Yuki they had grown to know was a gentle, sweet girl, at least on the inside. To have her treating them with indifference- albeit chilly- is something that they had yet to experience until that day after the whole chaotic event.
"Hey, don't talk to us like that, peasant-" Tsukasa sneers, only to be cut off by his sister.
Yuki looks at him, but her face remains calm.
"Then don't call me out here." She stands up to leave, Akira instinctively reaching for her hand- only to be slapped away without a glance. Even Shizuka's plead was useless after another stupid sentence from Tsukasa, who tries to get her to stay.
"Hey, we're hurting as much as you are-"
This time, the hostility breaks through.
"No you're not," Yuki nearly spits out, "you're just guilty.
And damn it, you should be- I lost my friend, my best friend, to another country. I couldn't contact her, since her company was a shithouse. I tried to find her in Australia, and when I finally get to see her, she's lost so much weight. She's gotten prettier. She's still my friend. Still sweet, still smiling." Yuki pauses.
"But she's changed. Her smile's not sunny anymore, and she's definitely not happy to see any of you again."
The angry speech renders them all on the edge.
"And if she's changed this much,
It's all your fault, Domyouji."
With the last few words left to settle into the others, Yuki breaks away from the table, the little tinkle of the bell the only thing that makes them realise she's left. Shizuka and Tsubaki were nearly in tears, Akira and Soujiro were restless, Rui was stricken.
But all in all, Tsukasa's face was the one filled with the most pain.
And in that moment, he finally felt the impact of what he'd done.
Tsukushi stands outside the door, the sight of the house she grew up in almost a foreign land after all these years of separation. Though she had written to her family as much as she could, she would never get a reply.
Of course what she doesn't know about her company is still to be discovered.
But right now, as she presses the doorbell, her ears ring and her heart pounds with something strange- excitement, anxiety? Perhaps. She's trying to think of something witty to say, to prove that she's changed from the bumbling girl that she once was. Her formal speech on the tip of her tongue dies out the moment she catches something warm and familiar.
And it's all she can do not to simply kneel down and cry.
"My sweet child..."
The wracking sobs from her mother's embrace staines her expensive clothes, the smell of home cooking invading her sensitive nose. And with a pat on the back as well as more than just a few happy tears, Tsukushi's voice croaks a little.
A/N: Oh, sweet Buddha. I've not written something like this for aaaaages. I've missed this plot, but now I'll be updating more often than before. *cough*I'll try not to cut internet cold turkey ever again *cough*. As a side note, ALL my stories are going to be re-vamped into better paragraphs and shit. Yeah.
Enjoy this chapter? Leave a review. If not, just gimme some idea on what to change :D