After reading the "Yotsuba&" manga, I noticed a number of incidents that subtly hinted at a possible future relationship between Mr. Koiwai and Fuuka. There's just so many things to like about Fuuka (including the fact that she's such a cutie!) Anyway, I'd like to say that I was inspired to write this after reading Elle Rita's excellent Fuuka/Koiwai stories.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR
It wasn't like his life had ever been 'normal', especially after a certain strange girl ended up becoming his daughter. But things really took a turn for the surreal after they'd moved in next door to the Ayase residence. While moving in, his daughter had wondered off somewhere- though that wasn't unusual for her. No, the interesting part came when he first met her.
Despite being only sixteen, the girl (Fuuka) was surprisingly level-headed and reasonable. Much more so than he'd been when he was that age. He even went so far as to suggest to Yotsuba that she should try to follow Fuuka's example.
Yotsuba had quickly enamored herself to the Ayase family (both the mother and the girls), making friends with the three girls- despite being much younger than all of them. Koiwai noted how much the relationships differed from sister to sister.
Ena, the youngest (and most 'typical') of three, was the closest to what could be called a 'friend' when it came to Yotsuba. Asagi, who was the eldest of the three, seemed to fancy herself as some sort of quasi-mother figure to Yotsuba. The problem with this was that she had something of a mean streak to her that she let show occasionally (usually through some petty act).
But when he thought about it, it was the middle daughter, Fuuka, who seemed to be the best suited to coping with Yotsuba. It was hard to explain, but there was just something about her that made him think she could be a good 'mother' for Yotsuba. Unfortunately, this realization led to another (much more shocking) realization... Did he like Fuuka in that way?
If this was true, he wondered when had things first changed...? When had had she become more than just the girl next door? And more importantly, what did this say about him? Did this mean he was one of them- was he a 'perv'?
He was suddenly pulled from his thought when Yotsuba bolted into the room to play. He paused at his computer and turned to look at her for a moment, flashing a smile as she gave him one of her usual eccentric greeting. The green-haired girl had been his focus for so long that he couldn't recall the last time he'd given any serious thought to romance. And now it seemed that his first romantic inkling in years were about a girl that was almost ten years younger than him!
Some time later, on weekend, Koiwai was surprised to see Fuuka at his door. She'd come to drop off the weakly circulars, but was surprised to find Yotsuba absent from the scene. After being briefly admonished by the girl (for not knowing where his daughter was), Koiwai had invited her to stick around. His now seven-year-old daughter would most likely make an appearance any time now and would, no doubt, be glad to see Fuuka.
Being the nice polite girl that she was, Fuuka had politely accepted his invitation. As they ventured inside, Koiwai silently wondered about something... There were numerous occasions he could recall where Fuuka hadn't even batted an eye at the notion of coming inside the house with him. He knew she was a smart girl, so the only answer he could come up with was that she trusted him to never try any thing 'funny' with her (or at the very least, she viewed him as such a non-threat to her virtue that it was no big deal.) Either way, he didn't know what to make of it.
Koiwai asked if she was thirsty and offered to get some tea ready. Fuuka had graciously accepted, but quickly realized that he wasn't as apt to the task as he thought himself to be. So, the teen had joined him in the kitchen. "Honestly Koiwai-San, you have to be more diligent about these sorts of things." She remarked with a small smile. "If you don't prepare this correctly, it'll come out tasting bitter." She explained in a knowing tone.
As he listened to the eighteen year old berate him, he found himself smiling slightly. As an adult, he should have been offended by how candid she was behaving. Instead, he found it rather charming- she was so calm and cool-headed... not at all like he was at that age. After a moment, the short-haired girl smiled warmly. "You're a dad, so you need to be able to do these things- you have set a good example for your daughter." She pointed out in a gentle tone.
Fuuka suddenly had to fight back the blush that threatened to color her face. As she was finishing the kettle of 'Mandarin Spice', she became aware of something that she'd never even thought about before... She was in Koiwai-San's kitchen, making pot of tea for the two of them like it was no be deal, like they were... a couple? The blush surfaced, turning her cheeks a faint pink color. She turned to face the dark-haired man. "...The tea... i-it's ready now." She managed.
It was strange... Fuuka had never been so 'aware' of Koiwai. It was like a vibe that he gave off- it wasn't like any other adult she'd been around. After all, if she was honest with herself... she'd always thought he was rather handsome in his own way. And, despite him being a father, he wasn't that old. And like that, it struck her- just like the gap in their ages, the gap between the two of them suddenly seemed a lot smaller...
Yotsuba still hadn't shown up... They weren't worried yet, but if she didn't show up at some point, they might actually have to go looking for her!
Koiwai and Fuuka were now in the living room of the house. They were sitting cross-legged at either end of a low square-shaped table, both of them calmly sipping hot tea from their cups. Koiwai discreetly regarded the girl sitting across from him...
Fuuka wasn't like most of the younger girls he'd encountered in recent years- and that included her older sister, Asagi. Instead of fawning over the attractive brunet like a fool, he'd unknowingly gravitated towards dark-haired middle sister. Fuuka wasn't as glamorous or as eye-catching as her sister. Instead, there seemed to be a softness and natural cuteness to her. The way she smiled, her bright expressive eyes, her energy... it was all part of her appeal.
He suddenly glanced away when he realized that she'd noticed him looking at her. Fuuka merely smiled vibrantly at him and took a sip from her cup, before placing it down on the table. Koiwai composed himself and turned to face her again. "You know, Yotsuba really enjoys spending time with you. You coming around here means a lot... to both of us." He remarked with a smile. "Still, there must be other places you'd rather be, other people you'd rather spend your time with?"
Fuuka shook her head and smiled. "It's really no problem- I like spending time with you guys. Yotsuba is a lot of fun and…" She paused, blushing slightly. "…And well, you're pretty cool too." She admitted in sheepish tone.
Her last remark caused him to chuckle slight. He smiled back at her as he set his cup down. "I'm glad you think so…" He began. "Yotsuba's still a kid, so she'd easy to impress… But eventually, she'll get the age where I'm just a bother to her." He admitted with a faint smile. "The older she gets, the more aware I become of how just how much things are changing."
Koiwai sighed as he continued. "I just hope that she'll have managed to make some friends of her own… closer to her age." He remarked. "Your sister Ena is a wonderful kid, but she's growing up and I can't expect her to keep hanging out with my daughter- she's still in primary school, but Ena- she'll be in junior high before we know it."
Fuuka nodded knowingly. "I know what you mean; my dad will be tears when it happens." She remarked in a wistful tone, capped off by a feint chuckle. "But don't worry Koiwai-san, I'll still be around- I won't outgrow hanging out with Yotsuba." She offered him reassuringly with a smile.
Koiwai was silent for a moment, and then looked at her. "Thanks Fuuka, that means a lot… more than you may even realize." He replied. "But what about you, what are you going to do after high school?" He asked in a friendly tone.
She shook her head and picked her cup back up. "It's funny you should ask that… I've been asking myself the same thing recently." She answered. "To be honest, I'm not really sure… Still, when I think about it, I guess it was the uncertainty that scared me." She admitted. "At the time, it felt easier to just focus on the present… But you're right, I really should give more thought to it."
Koiwai nodded understandingly. "I can understand- I didn't grow up with dreams of being a translator… But maybe I can help you do a little better than I did." He remarked with a smile. "You know, I was thinking about how good you are with kids… Have you though about becoming a teacher?"
Fuuka perked up at this. "Me? You really think I could do that?" She asked, an eager smile appearing on her face. She'd never really thought about it, but she really did enjoy interacting with kids… and she trusted Koiwai-san's opinion.
He nodded, brushing a hand through his hair. "Absolutely, I've seen your skills first hand." He replied with a grin. "Trust me, if you can handle Yotsuba and still have fun while doing it, then you could handle anything."
Silence fell between them and Fuuka felt herself blush. "Koiwai-san, t-there's something I w-want to talk with you about." She began. He became silent as he waited for her to continue. "I'm aware of how I come across to most people… But even though I'm young and awkward, I want you to know my feeling…"
Koiwai felt himself start to sweat as he listened to her. He had a vague idea as to what she was getting at, but it was too absurd to even consider. No, she couldn't possibly…
She swallowed nervously. "You see, Koiwai-san, I l—" Her words were abruptly interrupted by the sound of someone noisily entering the house. The two of them whirled around to see the familiar green-haired figure of Yotsuba burst into the room.
The embarrassed expressions on their faces failed to register with the child as she rushed over to where they were seated. "Dad! Fuuka-chan!" She exclaimed as she practically leapt at Fuuka. The teen rapidly composed herself in time to catch the girl in her arms and return her embrace.
Koiwai felt his shoulders slump as Fuuka hugged his daughter…
(- To Be Continued -)
As I mentioned at the start, Elle Rita's stories were a big inspiration to me, so there may be a few similarities here and there. They're hard to avoid, since her stories were up first and- in many ways- set the standard for those to come. Still, I hope you all enjoyed this.