Characters – Hana, Ryohei, Kyoko
Pairings – Ryohei/Hana (33Hana)
Genres – Romance, Drama
Note(s) – For one of the few canon pairings in KHR, this isn't as popular as you'd think. So I decided to try my hand at it. Do take note that for the ending… yeah. It's supposed to happen before they get together, and I think it's safe to assume that they do get together, despite the tone of the ending here, and Hana's worries, etc.
Disclaimer – I own nothing D:
Magnifying Glass, I need you not.
It is the little things that she notices. The fresh bruises on his knuckles and fingers, maybe a new bandage plastered onto his crooked nose. He seems more roughed up than usual, which is saying quite a bit. It is in the way he manages to plaster a toothy grin on his face, directing it earnestly to Kyoko – even when the smile means nothing, and that he's hiding behind it (she sees his mouth twitch abruptly, and decides that cowering is a better word)– that she knows something is off. When he uses the term 'sumo-wrestling', she thinks she can glimpse shrouds of doubt flickering in his hazel eyes, and begins questioning the credibility of his explanation.
Kyoko just laughs, Haru just pouts.
Hana knows she is the only one who notices this.
She haphazardly assumes she is the only one who can remedy it. Then laughs bitterly and returns her attention to something worthwhile and important – her homework. She taps the top of her blue pen against her jutting chin as she lulls her cheek on her free hand. She blames nothing but single-minded boredom when her mind betrays her and wanders back to the male Sasagawa and the gnawing suspicion that looms overhead. She dismisses the fascination with her best friend's brother as nothing more than a normal, innocent curiosity.
She tucks a good portion of her long hair behind her bare ear, and ponders if wearing earrings will make her seem more mature.
The only thing that doesn't seem different about him is that baffling determination and that hyped-up, energetic tenor ever present his loud, raspy voice. The enthusiasm and drive to never give up comes right out of nowhere. In class, as the teacher babbles on pointlessly, she rests her chin on the tabletop and casually asks Kyoko why her brother is constantly, religiously, like that. The friend with the chestnut hair just smiles indulgently in response, and shrugs her shoulders (teasingly). Hana realises that there is no worded answer, or at least, one that Kyoko could phrase neatly with spoken words.
The Sasagawa (it's no longer Kyoko she's referring to this time) bends over to her and uses the tip of his chewed pencil to point at a math problem he's having (extreme) difficulty with. She furrows her eyebrows and wonders briefly why on earth she knows more than him. Kyoko laughs sweetly from her side of the dinner table, and motions to go and pour heavenly juice for the three of them. Hana grudgingly accepts the duty of being Ryohei's home tutor and shifts closer to get a strategic look at his textbook (dog-eared and folded in multiple places) and his sheet of working paper (almost completely empty, save for littered eraser dust). She groans, and doesn't need to be psychic to tell that it will be a long afternoon.
She absent-mindedly takes note that he doesn't communicate with much females outside the tight, limited circle (triangle?) of Kyoko, Haru and herself. The majority of the female population in school avoid him out of misplaced intimidation and wariness. She entertains herself with a short second of thought: perhaps being Ryohei's female acquaintance is a privilege. Then, she remembers witnessing him fall face first and sink all but beautifully to the unseen bottom of the community swimming pool; watching on as he yells out extremely (randomly); gaping as he proceeds to parade around shirtless.
She decides that privilege isn't quite the best word.
On a sweltering morning, she finds herself walking briskly after his jogging figure, down through the boulevards of the city to school. Kyoko isn't around because she's been gradually spending more time with Sawada and his posse. She blames herself for forgetting that simple fact, and walking up to the Sasagawa door only to realise Ryohei as a singular, lonely, individual in the emptied house. When asked if she wanted to walk to school together – she did not, did not, know that he actually meant jog.
Ryohei catches his breath and jogs on the spot as she hurries to catch up to him. As she does so, she sighs heavily and proposes the notion of finding alternative girls – more beautiful and athletic ones – to accompany him to school. He roars in protest, telling the entire world that all the girls he knows, included her, are (extremely) beautiful and kind – albeit not as fast runners as he would have hoped. And that he doesn't need to search for others. He is perfectly contented and lucky to know her and have her as a friend.
She pulls the leather straps of her schoolbag closer to her sweating neck and attaches her gaze to the gravel of the sidewalk. It is obviously a compliment, but she bristles and pretends, in the sanctuary of her mind, that it is a sarcastic joke instead.
She brushes a small bit of black hair back, because her ear is feeling somewhat hot and tempered (not because she is showing off modest ruby earrings). When Ryohei sees with a raised eyebrow, the fifteen-year old points out her new accessory with a half smile. When he says that it's different and 'extremely nice' on her, she shakes her head slowly at his limited vocabulary and lets a smile spread across her countenance. After she bids the Sasagawa household goodbye for the day and walks down the sidewalk – her smile widens uncharacteristically. And no matter how hard she tries, it won't go away. She lowers her head and tucks her chin in, and just prays the giddy feeling will fade away (or die, just die, because it's itching and annoying her).
She hands him written notes that she is certain he is in dire need of; a frowning mouth and a nonchalant look deliberate in her irises. It feels like he's changed in the past week (almost like he has spent the last seven days in an entirely different world), as if he's matured and grown, away from her calculative gaze. As he flashes her a sincere smile and graciously receives the thick stack of papers from her, he nearly looks more like an adult – in a dashing sort of way. She scoffs under her breath, and mentally instructs herself to get more sleep, maybe take an aspirin.
The last time she had a crush on an older boy, the relationship was short-lived. Very much so. Then again, Ryohei is only barely a year her senior. And she doesn't even think to compare the age gap mentally. And then, there's the question of what exactly she finds appealing in him. Definitely not the tuft of white he passes off as hair, and she doesn't really enjoy it when other people shout constantly.
Because when he opens his mouth, determination and encouragement flows with inhumane ease. And it isn't entirely just a whole chunk of meaningless noise (but it is loud and incessant, either way) so she can live with it, and perhaps tolerate it. Hana can't restrain her lips from curling – either out of amusement or fascination – when the male talks about setting higher goals begging to be clinched, and further targets screeching for a bulls-eye. First, it sounds impossible. Then, she finds herself waiting (pining) to be proved wrong. She brushes it off, but does not give a reason (an excuse) this time. She is smarter than that.
She knows she likes him.
(Her heart does not hurt that much, and her smile does not reveal her unworded sorrow to Kyoko.)
When she is twenty, she decides to snip off her long dark curtain of hair – now, she can show off her earrings without effort (guilt). When the man (now, no longer a boy) notices her new look, he tilts his head cautiously to the side. She holds her hands together indignantly and angles her chin to maintain the air of pride around her. She is almost thinking that she has made the wrong choice at the hairdresser's – her locks must look very messy and choppy, and anything but flattering around her square jaw. But Ryohei grins goofily; he closes his kindly eyes and offers her a bandaged thumbs-up. She chews her lower lip and forces herself not to return the idiotic smile. She mutters a hesitant, frustrated 'thank you', because that really isn't what she wants to say.
He leaves for his job before any plot-developing device can occur to allow romance to blossom. She huffs under her breathy sigh and holds back the tears (like she has so many times before).
She bumps into him on the streets of Nanimori, and he isn't out jogging for once. More surprisingly, he's decked out in an unthinkable suit complete with a grey blazer. And it fits him, somehow, enhancing the broadness of his shoulders and his lean frame. She then stares as she sees that he has cut his hair too – changing from a messy lawn head (as Gokudera constantly laments) to a short, functional yet suave haircut with an appealing fringe. She laughs blithely, and in a blind, dazzling moment of frenzy, she lets slip that he looks handsome.
She snaps her hand to cover her mouth, as if something vulgar has been said. The man stops laughing entirely, and instead, turns his intense gaze to her. Awkward silence settles over them, somewhat of a miracle, with Ryohei's much-conscious presence.
She doctors his expression and realises that it is the first time she's seen that smile touching his tanned face. It is distant and mildly emotional (just tracing along the word shy), far different from the bold, straightforward grin he usually fashions. He opens his mouth, and just before coherent words can flow, his cellphone rings violently, shattering her (their) dream. As the taller male startles and immediately searches the pants of his suited ensemble, she hangs her head low and hides her embarrassing disappointment. She was nearly hoping that he had finally taken notice of her feelings, of the nagging affection that simply would not go away.
Then suddenly, his hands are around hers, embracing her fingers with the comforting reluctance of a grown man who has never held a female properly (never gotten the chance). His bandages are rough, his hands relatively warm, and his grip somewhat stiff but gentle. It's as if he is afraid he will crush her. She blushes furiously, but finds the action heart-lifting and hesitates just an ounce before shouting out in instinctive alarm. Ryohei waits for her to finish panicking and flustering, before speaking – softly, slowly, lovingly (she imagines).
"I'm extremely sorry."
A chaste kiss above her brow, considerably ghostly, and then, he's gone. (But her skin burns hot where his lips have brushed) Off to attend to his demanding (unmentionable) job with Sawada, probably.
She does not stretch a sappy hand out to his shrinking sihoulette, nor does she shed dramatic, wimpy tears. Hana knows better than to resort to such clichés and idiotic actions. He will be back. She simply clutches the edge of her brown blouse, speechless, fruitlessly attempting to figure out how it would be possible to soothe an aching heart. Then, she just throws the notion away, kicking abusively at the pole of the nearest streetlamp before running a hand through her messy hair. Her ears are heavy with the oval diamonds that he has failed to point out and compliment.
Three words were not supposed to mean that much.
When she finds out he is in the mafia, a dry, strained chuckle escapes her lowered lips.
(Funny, how she completely missed the big picture.)