HI EVERYONE! I know i know...I'm sorry I've kept everyone waiting for a new update but wait no longer...chapter 10 is finally up! Because i know I haven't been able to update much and not getting enough time to write the story so i made this chapter extra extra longer! yay! Gotta love me right?...just kidding.
Again, before you read, please apologize for my grammars or any mispell japanese phrases. I'm not originally from Japan so there are few words I don't know, such as secretary and president. Please correct me if i used these terms wrong ok? Thank you in advance ^_^.
Sakuno sat at her desk flipping through pages of cooking recipes. Uncle Keigo-san opened her room to find her busy and decided to leave her be. He sighed as he close the door.
Keigo-san went to the kitchen with cup in his hand. He saw his son on his phone, he came up to Atobe and snapped the phone away from him. "At your age, you shouldn't be playing games."
"HEY! I nearly almost broke the record!"
"Shhh! Tell me, what is wrong with Sakuno?"
"It was nothing, a girl claimed that our spaghetti isn't good so now she is trying to come up with a different recipe." Atobe sighed, "She think so much that her hair is nearly becoming spaghetti." He grabbed his phone back.
"What's the big deal about that? Spaghetti was always an Italian thing, Sakuno is not Italian, it's not a surprise that the food is not good."
"If it's like what you said, then she should go and sell teriyaki." All of a sudden light bulb lit in their head. They looked at each other.
"What she should sell is...-"
"...Japanese roast meat with rice." Atobe finished the sentences.
The next day, Atobe and Sakuno went to many restaurants to try their roast meat with rice. Afterward, they made a stop at the bookstore looking for roast meat recipes.
For the past few days she had tried many attempts to perfect the recipe but to no success.
One day, Sakuno sat the bowl in front of Keigo-san. He lift the chopsticks and took a bite of the roast meet with yellow pickle. He was about to say something when Sakuno stopped him. 'Wait! Tell the truth.'
"...The truth is, it's ok."
right then, Atobe ran out and snapped the bowl and the chopsticks from his old man. "Let me try." He took a bite of the roast meat. Sakuno stared at him patiently. He looked at her. "IT'S DELICIOUS!"
'The TRUTH, Atobe-kun.'
"...Well, if the meat was more tender and a bit more salty, the flavor a bit stronger, the rice a little bit softer and more sticky then it would be perfect...I like it a lot, I'm satisfied, right oyaji?"
'I will try harder, this time I will succeed.'
Ryoma was up early today. After his morning practice out on the tennis court, he put on his suit and about to head out when an unexpected person showed up at his front porch. Dress in sweat pant and zip up hoodie with basketball in her hand she approached Ryoma at the front door. "Morning!" She greeted.
"Do we have a date?" Ryoma asked.
"Do I need to make an appointment every time I want to see you?"
"No, it's just that..."
Michiko frowned. "Today is the weekend, Ryoma-kun."
"I'm heading out to Kyushu sometime soon, and..."
"...and you need to finish your work, but once in a person's life time they will have a few sunny weekends...have you counted yours?"
"Why are you asking me math question early in the morning?"
"I'm not, i'm just reminding you that you have to rest occasionally. If a machine runs for too long it will eventually need to be shut down for awhile." she threw the basketball to him and demand him to accompany her today. Ryoma hesitated but decided to go along with her. After he changed into a more comfortable outfit for sport, he and Michiko went to a near by park where she always go to play basketball with her few friends. They both spent the whole morning enjoying the game and the weather. After the game they went to a restaurant. "So how is it? Coming out and playing around once in awhile is nice, right?"
"It's not so bad, but when I think about..."
"Ooh Ryoma-kun, let's not mention work." Michiko pouted. "And here I thought you were more relaxed, since this didn't work, I guess I should push it a bit more."
Ryoma gave a puzzled look.
"How about a small vacation?" Michiko suggested.
"Vacation? Ok, after I come back from my business trip, I'll take you." He took a sip of the tea.
"I've heard this line hundred of times. When this case finish Spring will be gone as well, then after Spring the next case will appear and when the next case finish, Autumn will be gone as well. To me, it seems as though the four seasons will go by and I will still be here."
"Why does it make me sound like an irresponsible person?"
"Hmm forget it." She leaned back on her chair defeated. "At least the feeling of someone owing you feels pretty good. Knowing that someone owes you is better than owing someone else."
"Mada mada dane, this time I really will take you, wait until I come back."
"You said it Ryoma Echizen." She smiled with satisfactin.
The food finally arrived. "Sorry for the wait, your food is here."
Before Ryoma can take a first bite of his food she stopped him. He looked at her. "Remember, you owe me a holiday."
He nodded his head 'yes'. Looking down at his plate, he took a bite of his roast meat, hoping for that taste he had missed so dearly.
"Do you not like it?" Michiko asked.
"The taste. . .is pretty good."
"Your expectation for rice with roast meat is especially high."
Without a word, Ryoma continued eating.
The whole day Sakuno spend rambling through cook books for the recipe.
"The secret in Roast meat is marinating the flavor into the meat, hmm how do you marinate the flavor in?" Atobe mumbled to himself.
Curious to what he was mumbling about, Sakuno stood up from her small table and walked over to where Atobe is sitting. Looking over his shoulder she grabbed the book he is looking at. The sound of flipping pages after pages could be heard in the room. She thought it was something useful but the disappointed look on her face said otherwise. She threw the book back on down. "Just copying down the names of restaurants doesn't help."
"Really?" Atobe said sheepishly as he picked the book up again. "Heh, you're right." He purposely flipped to the page he was looking at earlier, "Hey, this restaurant is really good, I promise you, next time i'll take you there. We've never been to a romantic, nice atmosphere feeling place, talking and dancing..." He said with a dreamly look then looked at Sakuno and frowned, "We can take dad along."
Sakuno poke him on the head, causing his head to flinch back a little. 'Atobe-kun! We haven't even made the money and yet you're already thinking of wasting it." Sakuno said with her hand movements as it harshly glided in the air.
Atobe reached out for her hands. "Let's see if you've broken your palm. Wah! How evil! Your hand looks like a meat mallet, do you want to flatten me?" He took one of her palm to playfully smack him in the cheek.
Sakuno suddenly thought back about what he said and a familiar words once spoken by her okaasan rush through her mind.
"For a roast meat to be tasty, the most important thing is to hit the meat with the mallet so it will become tender."
Thinking back, she quickly swung her hands away from Atobe's grip and ramble through her box of old stuffs under her bed. When she found what she was looking for she happily stood up to face Atobe with a mallet in her hand. Atobe jumped back and took a defense stance, "Hey! What are you doing? I just said your hands look like a meat mallet and now you want to hit me with this?"
'This is the secret to making yummy roast meat.' She claimed.
The rest of the night Sakuno and Atobe are in the kitchen trying the new method that Sakuno discovered. Sakuno is mixing the ingredients together and making sour yellow pickles to go along with the roast meat and rice, whereas, Atobe is pounding the meat with the mallet!
Sakuno tapped Atobe on the arm to get his attention. 'Softer! You'll wake uncle Keigo-san.'
She went to her mixing but stopped midway as she happily smiled and thought to herself. 'Okaasan, I've decided to sell your proud rice with roast meat, this familiar taste has brought me many wonderful memories. Don't worry, I will definitely make the same yummy rice with roast meat.' With that thought, she continued mixing with a huge smiled on her face. Atobe noticed the smile on her face and can't help but smile back. Soon later, they were finally done. Sakuno stretch her hands and in the cornered of her eyes she saw Atobe's body lying on the floor near by the couch sleeping. She smiled. She went up to him and place the blanket over Atobe. She stared at him as he sleep. 'That's why you, who is living in Lucky star, please bless us with blooming business.'
That morning at their usual spot, in a hot weather like today, no one stopped by their cart for any orders. Sakuno and Atobe sat around with hope that someone will come. Atobe was helping Sakuno fan since it was such a hot day. He quickly sat up when a person walked by. "Miss! This is authentic Japanese roast meat, would you like to try it?"
"No thank you, no thank you..." the lady quickly walked away.
Defeated, Atobe sat back down across from Sakuno. "Can't help it, all these people have eaten our spaghetti before so they probably didn't think it would be good, I guess no matter what we change it to, it won't work. We need to think of something, think up a trick." They both try to come up with a plan. "Maybe some kind of cultural theme." Atobe suggested. Sakuno thought about it then suddenly she stood up and ran off.
"Sakuno-chan, where are you going?"
'I'll be right back.' Then she ran off again. Atobe went back to his seat then stopped.
"No way! She is not thinking of that is she?" His question was answered few minutes later when Sakuno returned with two pair of outfits. Dressing in kutanas, Atobe hid behind his fan he was holding, he was embarrassed to dress in a traditional outfit in public. Sakuno showed no embarrassment as she bow to each person that walked by. "Does it have to be like this?" Atobe whispered to her.
'You gave me the idea.'
"I-I only..." He stopped and held up his fan to hide his face when he saw more people walked by. "You gotta be kidding Sakuno-chan."
'This is a good plan.'
"One rice with roast meat to go please." Finally someone came to order.
'Coming right up.' Sakuno made Atobe turned around to face the customer as she went to pack the order.
This is so embarrassing. Atobe thought to himself.
Later that morning they decided to close the shop and head home. "Being a human is so hard." Atobe carried in a big pot, "if business is bad, it's frustrating...if business is good, it's tiring." He plopped down on the chair with his head on top of the pot. "I'm so dead tired." He laughed.
Sakuno on the other hand ran to sit down at the table and pour out all the bills and coins from her purse. Atobe ran over when he heard the sound of coin chimes and ruffled of bills.
"Wahhh! Just by the sound of the clinking coins makes me excited, how much do you think we earned?"
'A lot!' Sakuno has a huge smiles plastered on her face.
He grabbed the pile of money on the table and threw it in the air. "Whoohoo!"
'Quiet down Atobe-kun.'
"We should celebrate tonight. Eat whatever you like, drink whatever you wish." He ran to the fridge and saw a box of cake in the fridge. "Hmm? Dad can see into the future! The cake is already prepared." Sakuno try to remember what is today. 'Oh! Today is uncle Keigo's birthday.'
"My dad's birthday?"
"Luckily, someone is smart enough to figure it out and here I thought no one would understand my clue," keigo-san startled the pair. He walked away leaving the pair feeling remorse.
'Atobe-kun!' Sakuno once more poked him on the head.
"Hey, today's not your birthday, how am I suppose to rememeber?"
That night, they celebrate keigo-san's birtday. Both men are dancing and singing while Sakuno sat on the couch laughing at their silliness. "Hey, we're out of beer, go get some beer." Keigo-san told his son.
"I went out twice already, you go."
"Oh you smart ass, it's late at night and you want your old man to go out and buy beer?"
"Old people should exercise more." He wanted to hit Atobe with his fan but Atobe dodged. "How about the one that lose will go, ne?"
"Like I'm scared of my own son."
"Come, come. . .ichi, ni, san!" Keigo-san and Atobe held out a scissor and one hand held out a paper. Both men looked at Sakuno. Sakuno shrugged her shoulder innocently.
Ryoma sat in his office, with everyone gone he was the only one left in the building. He tore his eyes away from his papers and glanced at the clock on his desk. It was late, he didn't even realized he was there for so long. Feeling hungry, he left some of his works undone and left the building to stop by a market near by to get something to eat. He parked his car in front of the market and got out. Inside the market he looked through a magazine as he waited for his food in the microwave to be done. When he heard a ding he put the magazine back on the shelf. As he walk away, unnoticed by him, Sakuno had made her way to the freezer where cold beers and drinks could be found.
Ryoma look inside his wallet to find nothing. With no cash, he took his credit card out. "Do you take credit card?"
"There is a withdrawal machine over there."
Ryoma hesitated, now he is in a bad situation. "I don't have a withdrawal card." As on cue, Sakuno happened to show up at the registered. Sakuno looked to her right to find that mean CEO that left her on the mountain alone. Out of all the places she had to meet him here.
Ryoma noticed Sakuno and stood there awkwardly. Why now? Ryoma thought to himself. Feeling bad for him, Sakuno gestured to the lady to put them together.
"Together ma'am?" Sakuno shook her head yes. Ryoma was startled by her kindness.
Sitting at the table inside the market, both Sakuno and Ryoma sat together as he munch down his food. "Thank you."
'No worries. How come you are eating so late?'
"Eat?" Sakuno pointed at the clock on the wall. Ryoma looked at the clock, trying to put the clues together. 10:45 pm. "You're asking me why I'm eating so late?"
"Forgot, because of work." He simply replied.
'So busy that you forgot to eat?'
'Looks like CEO is a hard position to fill.' Ryoma gave her a confused expression.
Sakuno almost forgot that he can't read sign language. 'it's nothing.'
"Ne, give me your phone number." Ryoma fished out his phone. "I don't like to owe people money, give me your number, i'll contact you."
'No need.' With the stern look on Ryoma's face was enough to tell her that he wouldn't take no for an answer. She took his phone and punch in her numbers. She gave the phone back.
Looking around she couldn't find anything to write with, instead, she dipped her finger in the water that was produce by Ryoma's water bottle, she gracefully glide her hand along the table.
"Sakuno?" At first Ryoma was almost taken back by the spelling of the name when she wrote 'Saku' but after she completely spelled her name with 'no' at the end, with little disappointment, he figured that it couldn't be the same girl that he long to meet again. "Ne, the name Sakuno sounds like it should be for a quiet and obedient girl, right?"
Sakuno's face became stern.
"Nani? Am I wrong? I reckon a person who can finish all these beers wouldn't be that quiet."
She looked at the bag of beers she brought for her uncle and Atobe and sheepishly smiled.
"Are you worried about her?" Atobe was standing by the window before his father came up to him.
"Look at what time is is, of course i'm worried."
Keigo-san smiled at his silly boy. "You really care for Sakuno. My words... you really haven't forgotten about them."
Atobe thought for a minute. "Huh?"
"The year she had that accident, I told you that if she become mute for the rest of her life, I will take you responsible for taking care of her for life, until now, you have kept them in your heart." He watched his son sulked as Atobe remembered that day. "You're older now son, not younger anymore, if you really like her, you should express it more."
"I don't know what you are talking about, old man."
"Boy, it's written all over your face, don't you like her?"
"Of course I do..."
"Then tell her!" Keigo-san sighed. "You're all grown up yet don't even know how to date someone, do you need me to help you with these things?"
trying to avoid the sensitive topic, he quickly changed the topic. "Sakuno-chan has been gone for awhile now, I'll go find her." Atobe left. Keigo-san smiled after his son.
Back at the market. Sakuno and Ryoma walked out together. "Do you need a ride?"
'no thank you. Bye.' She waved her hand. She walked the opposite direction.
Ryoma got into the car. The moment he start the car, a sudden pain crawled on the side of his abdomen. It was so hard to resist the pain that his head fell onto his wheel. The sound of the horn rang throughout the street. The sound of the horn made Sakuno stopped. She turned toward the sound of the horn and saw Ryoma's body trembling with pain. Worried, she quickly ran up to his car. She knocked a couple of times on his window. Ryoma finally rolled down the window.
'Are you okay?'
He trailed his eyes to her hand then to her face then back to her hand again. "I'm fine, it's nothing new, i'll be fine after awhile." He looked away.
Sakuno tapped on his shoulder to get his attention. 'Wait for me.'
Once more, Ryoma looked away, trying to resist the pain. It's happening again, however, it was a lot more painful than before Ryoma noticed.
Not sure what to do, Sakuno put her bag of beers on his car then ran off. "Ne, where are you going?" He managed to ask through the pain. His question was never answered for Sakuno was no longer in sight. Nothing Ryoma could do but wait for her returned.
At that moment, Atobe arrived at the market and went inside to look for Sakuno. Few seconds later he walked back out, not really paying attention to the car near by the market or the person in the car, instead, he went the opposite direction that Sakuno had ran off to. The park near by, Atobe called home. "Oyaji, did Sakuno-chan came home yet?...Nani? Still not home yet? ok." He hung up. "Where did she go?" He asked to no one in particular.
Sakuno had finally returned. She came up to his car and tapped him on the shoulder once more. Feeling a little slightly better, Ryoma glanced at Sakuno. "Why did you put your bag on top of my car?"
Sakuno held out a white plastic bag. Ryoma stared at it. Medicine? He took the bag. Sakuno grabbed her water bottle and held it in front of him and gave him the pill she brought.
Without hesitation, Ryoma drained the pill down his throat. Satisfied to see him had taken the pill, Sakuno gave him a piece of paper then took her bags and left. He watched her leave. He read the note.
This is a 3 day medication for your stomach, take one before every meal, but I think you should still go see a doctor and the most important thing is to eat at the right time.
Ryoma silently smiled.
Sakuno finally arrived home. Keigo-san was sitting on the couch drinking the last drop of beer when Sakuno walked in with more fresh and cold beers. She looked around. 'Where is Atobe-kun, Keigo-san?'
"He went out looking for you, didn't you see him?"
'Where did he go to look for me?'
"He didn't say." Sakuno was about to go out to look for Atobe but Keigo-san stopped her. "Ne, ne Sakuno-chan, don't go out, if he comes back and doesn't see you, he will go out and look for you again, then you'll go out looking for him, if this keep going you both will never find each other."
"You know i'm right." He smiled.
Ring. Ring. Ring. The sound of the phone rang throughout the room. Keigo-san went to pick it up and Sakuno went to sit on the couch.
"Moshi moshi. Yes, she is back safe and sound. Hurry and come home. Come home ok, ja ne." He hung up. Sitting down across from her, Sakuno handed him a can of beer. "Arigatou Sakuno-chan."
Sakuno went ahead and open herself a can of beer. Keigo-san glanced at her with awkwardness, unsure how to approach a girl he have come to love like she was his own daughter. He adjusts his glasses. "Ne, Sakuno-chan, do you like Atobe?" He went straight to the point.
Stopping midway from sipping the beer, she looked at him with hesitation. Unsure how to reply to his question and unsure of her own feelings, she kept silence.
"Ah, gomen. It's probably because it's Uncle Keigo-san birthday and i'm so very happy that I just wanted to ask this question, you...you don't mind, right?" He sighed. "Sakuno-chan, the truth is, Atobe really likes you, but because of his lack of experience, he is unsure of how to express his feelings for you. Even though he hasn't said anything, but as a father, I can see it in his eyes, I'm sure even a blind person can tell. He really do care about you, probably more than his old man." He chuckled.
Sakuno lowered her head with her eyes focusing on the beer.
"Uncle keigo-san will not force you to do anything, maybe because i'm getting old now and anxious so i'm asking you this so suddenly." Once more he sighed. "Sakuno-chan, if-if you don't like Atobe it's not a problem." Sakuno tore her eyes away from the beer to look at her uncle. "Because all these years, we've lived together and I see you like my daughter, we. . . .- I shouldn't have asked." He took a sip of his beer.
Sakuno waved to him to get his attention. 'I like Atobe-kun.'
"Really? So you really don't hate that rascal?"
'Living with Uncle keigo-san and Atobe-kun makes me very happy.'
Unknown to both of them, Atobe happened to arrive home and is standing outside leaning against the wall as he listen to their conversations. Upon hearing that Sakuno likes him and doesn't hate him somehow made him felt relief. With that happy thought he continue to stand outside with a relief smile on his face.
"That's good, that's very good!" Keigo-san's voice was louder than usual. "We are a family after all, a real family!"
'Uncle Keigo-san, Atobe-kun is not home yet, I would like to wait outside for him.'
"Hmm? Sure, sure...go."
Sakuno quickly stood up and head for the door. At the door, she noticed Atobe-kun standing outside leaning against the wall with his eyes close and a huge smile plastered on his face. She paused then turned away. I do like Atobe-kun right? After all, these past years we've been holding each others hands, caring for each other and protecting each other...but...every time I think about the mystery hidden underneath that brick, my heart would start aching. Memories of him once again flash through her mind. Now sitting in her room she stared at the roaring black sky above her. Ne, Obaachan, that feeling couldn't possibly be love, right? She sighed hopelessly.
"Sir, the reporter who is interviewing you is here." A secretary announced along with a knock, from behind a tinted glass door.
"Thank you, you can tell her to come in." The girl walked in. "Have a sit." He said in a monotone voice.
They both settled down on a sit and started the interview. So far she had asked him many questions. "CEO-san, so this time it's Aikawa Company's big newcomer, the criticism in the social world is harsh, but how do you feel about it?"
"To care about everyone's criticism...is too tiring. To do what you think is right is nothing to be ashamed of, it has always been my motto."
"So in other word, all those fired workers were not fit for the job?"
"CEO-san, I will not recite a long explanation, but no matter what, you have to give me another chance...CEO-san, I-I can't do anything without this job, please."
"Hai!" Ryoma replied with no hint of regret.
"I heard that Echizen-san's next move is to introduce the projects in Kyushu..."
Ryoma made eyes contact. "Tanaka-san is truly well informed."
"There are so many pretty western girls, Echizen-san is our magazine's number one business bachelor that any girls want to marry, aren't you afraid that when the time comes, you will not be able to resist the temptations?"
Silenced. Once again Ryoma made eye contacts with her. Without a second thought, he reached for the cassette player and paused it. He leaned closer to her. "You're worried?"
"Echizen-san, we are currently doing a professional interview." She wanted to resume the cassette but Ryoma stopped her.
"Since it's an interview, can you please not include personal affairs? Please be a little more professional."
"In what part was I not professional?" She felt offended.
"The question you just asked, it doesn't seem like you were asking on behalf of the readers."
"Ne!" She bolted up from her sitting position.
Ryoma calmly stood up, with a monotone voice he said, "I was in a meeting the whole morning and at noon I have to give you, the big reporter, face. I'm really hungry, do you mind changing locations?"
At the restaurant
"Now that the interview is done, isn't it time to return to your company and quit?"
"Why would I want to do that?" Asked Michiko.
"If you don't quit now, how can you go Kyushu with me next week?"
"Don't be so full of yourself, who said I would go with you?"
"Hmm? But you were-"
"I told you, it was only an interview." She interrupted him.
"You said it, you chose to pass up on this opportunity," Ryoma smile slyly, "When I go overseas there will be a lot of pretty girls surrounding me."
"You wouldn't." She said with a straight face, knowing very well that Ryoma was not that kind of guy to be disloyal to her.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Because today, I finally understand you. When arriving in a new work surrounding and if you don't perform well at the start, you wouldn't be Echizen Ryoma, am I right?" She didn't need to know, she very well know that she was right. Of course, they have been together for so long, she can read him like a book, so she thought.
"You're not one bit anxious."
She brush her long black silky hair behind her shoulder and lean back against the chair. "Anxious about what?"
"Marrying into my family, wasn't it your lifelong wish?" Ryoma continue to say (or ask) in a monotone voice. "I really don't understand why you won't grasp onto a good opportunity like this."
"Ooh, you're scorning me for this reason?" She calmly asked.
"It's not 'scorn', but it's 'don't understand'."
Her back was no longer leaning against the chair but leaning forward with her hand supporting her chin. "My dearest fiance, losing me is your loss, not mine." Michiko's smile became a frown when she noticed Ryoma's expression suddenly changed.
The sudden familiar pain has once again crawled back to him. When there is pain, there are no words to describe it, because all pain is the same. He clutch to the side of his abdomen in agony.
"Stomach pain..." He gritted his teeth.
"Is it really painful? Should we go to the hospital? Or do you want me to buy you medicine?"
Medicine? He then remembered he had the pills on him. Inside of his suit pocket he took out a packet of pills. He swallow two pills.
"Are you all right?"
"Yea." His pain slowly decrease.
Michiko pouted. "I am begging you, you should eat on time, don't use your life as a joke. Luckily you have a smart secretary, not only did she buy you medicine, she also wrote a note to remind you."
"This wasn't my secretary."
"It wasn't her?..." Feeling uneasy about this she glanced at the pile of pills suspiciously. "I'm going to the restroom, if you're still not feeling well later I can go with you to the hospital." She stood up, not forgetting to take a quick glance at the note hidden underneath the packet of pills before she made her leave.
I should thank her. Ryoma grabbed his phone from his pocket.
Somewhere in Toyko, the phone vibrate. I have a text message? With her delicate hand she flipped the phone open. She read, 'Thank you for you medicine, it saved me once again. Are you free? I still owe you for your kindness.' Sakuno didn't reply, instead, she close the phone.
Ryoma sat outside on his porch that night. His mind wandered as he listen with the headphone on and looking up at the night sky. Each and every stars hanging in the sky are sparkling and bright, however, he only had eyes for one particular star. The only brightest star in the sky and the only place he knew that his father is happy there.
He was interrupted when a bowl came into his view. "Young master." His house keeper handed him the bowl. Ryoma took the headphone off. "Mistress heard that your stomach is hurting, so she said that you should drink this herb she made for you."
"Ne, Taka-san...If you want to repay someone, as a thank you, what kind of present should you get them?"
"This person...is not a business friend, right?" Taka-san smirked.
"If it was a business friend, I wouldn't need to do this myself."
I see. Taka-san smirked even more. "If it's not for a business friend, then it must be a friend?"
"Ne! I'm the one asking you questions, why do you have more questions than me?"
"I just want to confirm if this thank you is a big thanks, or a small thanks?"
Ryoma turned away, facing back to him, "If...you have to use those terms of saying it," he rubbed his neck, "then it's a small thanks."
Taka-san chuckled silently to himself. "Is it for a man or a woman?"
"Ok, I do have something in mind, I will prepare the present for you, when do you want it?"
The next morning, Ryoma awkwardly strolled down the busy street of Tokyo with flowers in his hand. This was all too new to him, other than his tennis racquet, he have never held anything such as a flower. 'Tsk, you just had to make it a big one. It wasn't just a single flower, but a big bouquet. He stopped at the traffic light, along with other pedestrians. Not too far behind, Sakuno also came to a stopped at the traffic light, standing few feet away from Ryoma. Unnoticed each other presences. It was then when a guy ran into Ryoma in a hurry and ran off without apologizing, did their eyes met. They both stood there staring into each other eyes as other pedestrians start crossing the street. Ryoma broke the eye contacts and looked at the object in his hand. He walked closer to Sakuno, grabbed one of her hand and gave her the bouquet. Ryoma was about to cross the street but Sakuno held him back by the hand. Startled by her warmth, he questioned her.
Sakuno point to the walking traffic light. It was red, indicating pedestrians not to walk, so they both stood there, side by side, as they wait again.
Arriving to their destination, they sat across from each other. 'Thank you.' Of course, Ryoma didn't understand her sign language. 'Wait.' She took out her small notebook and a pen and jotted down what she wanted to say.
"This mean..(he imitate her sign).. thank you?"
'Is your stomach better now?'
"It's a lot better, thank you." He once again did the 'thank you' sign. Sakuno chuckled.
"Sorry for the wait, can I get you both something to drink?" a waiter came to their table.
Sakuno waved no!
Her reaction startled Ryoma. "Nani? Is the coffee here really bad?"
Ryoma waited patiently. Sakuno took the pen. 'Coffee is not good for you if you still getting stomach pain.'
Ryoma smiled to himself. "Juice will be fine, what about you?" Sakuno blobbed her head up and down. "Make that two." He said to the waitor. The waitor left.
They sat in silence. Ryoma played with his glass of water, whereas, Sakuno fumbled with her whistle. She picked up the pen and let it glided along the paper. She glided the notebook towards him.
'Not used to this kind of silence?'
He took a sip of his water then gestured her to hand him the pen.
'No.' She read.
Confused, she wrote back, 'why are you using writing?'
"Because it's unfair."
"Ne, it's not fair that i'm always doing all the talking, since you won't talk, I won't either. Talking is too tiring, we'll use writing from now on."
This feeling was all too familiar to Sakuno. His words remind her too much of him. Only if she knew that the boy she has long to see is only few feet away.
"I'm a business man," Ryoma's voice brought her back to reality, "I respect the value of equal trading, you don't talk so why should I?"
'Today I'll use writing, I'm very much use to the silence.'
She grinned. She took the notebook and the pen from his grasp. 'Were you mute in your past life?'
'I'm going out of town to work next week.'
Her question was left unanswered. For some reason, she felt a little sad. 'So we won't be seeing each other then.' it was more of a statement than a question.
Sakuno sadly smiled.
Since I was young, I thought that I could enjoy my quiet world, but I never thought a moment like today would come...Ryoma thought to himself.
After their meeting, Ryoma and Sakuno were planning to head home but thought otherwise when they saw it was pouring rain outside; it was already dark out. They both stood outside by the door, wondering what to do since neither have an umbrella with them. They stood like that for couple of minutes.
"How did you get here?" Ryoma asked.
'I drove here.' Using her hand sign
"You drove?" She shook her head 'yes.' "Where did you park?"
Sakuno point toward the direction of the parking lot not too far from the restaurant. "You park there as well?" She shook her head again.
"It doesn't seem like the rain will stop anytime soon."
He's right, oooh I should have brought my umbrella. Her forehead frown.
"Do you mind going to your car in the rain?"
Sakuno pouted. Ryoma took off his suit jacket and hung over their head. As on cue, they both took off running in the pouring rain. For a girl running in her heels was enough difficult but with the rain pouring down so hard; it was even more difficult for her run in her heels. Upon arriving to the parking lot, both of them are soaking wet since for a mere suit jacket, it didn't help much. "Ne, my car is right here, where is yours?"
Sakuno point to the van not too far from his. 'Over there. Bye bye.'
He watch her run off to the direction of her car. He remembered he has an umbrella in his car, he quickly open his car door to grab it. "NE!"
Sakuno stopped and turned her body around. Ryoma caught up to her. He opened the umbrella and held it over her head. "Take this."
'I shouldn't.' She waved no to him.
"Take it!" Ryoma insisted.
'Thank you.' She kindly took the umbrella.
Ryoma bid her goodbye then ran back to his car. Sakuno continued to stand there to watch him run off before she make a ran to her car. Before Ryoma got into his car, he stopped. "NE!"
Sakuno once again paused and looked back.
"How do you gesture 'you're welcome'?"
Sakuno put the bouquet under her arm. 'What? The rain is too loud, I can't hear you.' She used a simple hand gesture as she point to he rain then to her ear, hoping he can read her sign.
"Forget it, it's nothing." Ryoma yelled through the rain. Sakuno turned back around to her car. Ryoma continue to watch her go. If there is someone else in the quiet world where i'm free, then...would I be able to uphold the silence? While driving in the rain, he had his favorite music on. I don't know, I really don't know, because I have never shared with someone. . .my silence. Never.
At the same time, Sakuno was listening to the same song Ryoma was listening too. She glanced over to the bouquet laying on the passenger side. A huge smile crawled to her lips.
Arriving home, Ryoma called out for Taka-san but instead, he received a greeting from unexpected guest when his bedroom door opened.
"What are you doing here?"
"How come you're so wet?" The person took the wet suit from him. "Quick, go in and take a shower before you'll catch a cold, go..." She dragged him into his room.
Ryoma came out of the bathroom to find Michiko sitting at his desk. "You're a bit too cautious, you even put a password on your home computer. He went over to his bed to look through the pile of folders.
"It's used to fend off people like you, who knows if you're a female spy? Pretending to be a reporter to get closer to me and steal the company's confidential information." He came over to her and put in his password.
Michiko stood up from the chair and playfully took a hold of his arm and held it behind his back.
"What are you doing?" Ryoma found it annoying.
"Since my identify is revealed, there is no need for me to pretend anymore," Michiko trying to seduce him, "Before in New York, I purposely got closer to you."
"You don't think I know that? I already saw through you in America." Ryoma smirked.
Michiko blew a pretend blow kiss at him. "You're now infected with my poisonous scent, no matter where you go, you will not be able to get away from my grasp." Ryoma drew the towel away from around his neck. Michiko observed him. "I really don't understand you Ryoma Echizen," She held her hand up like a microphone, "Can I ask you, when will you ever be able to relax?"
"Do you think everyone can be like you? Every night there is a bundle of dolls accompany you to sleep"
"Hmm? It sounds like you're jealous of my dolls." Michiko grinned from ear to ear. Ryoma smirk then went back to look at the files. "If I suddenly changed my mind, decided to throw away my career and go to Kyushu with you, would you be shocked?"
"Great, I can't beg for more."
Michiko did not catch the unexcited tone in his voice. She sheepishly smiled. "I'm just kidding." She went to stand next to him. "When you go, you can also visit Asakura-kun. Since graduation, we haven't seen each other for a long time."
"I will definitely visit Takashi."
"I really miss those days when we were all studying in America." She picked up a picture frame of them three. "We didn't have to deal with our boss and all the work pressures...you still remember those days? The three of us were really close, perhaps I should find some time to go visit him."
"Will you be visiting him or me?"
She quietly laughed.
Sakuno and Atobe were happily washing dishes together when Keigo-san called Sakuno over. "Sakuno-chan, come here for a minute."
She put the towel down and quickly went to the living room. "Sakuno, I received my retirement money today." Sakuno grinned, she was happy for him.
"Really? That company has some human feelings in them." Atobe remarked.
"Now, Sakuno-chan, as I have said before, I want to give this money to you so you can go to Shikoku to see that brilliant doctor."
Later Sakuno and Atobe sat outside of their patio.
"I never knew that the old man still had some heart." Atobe said, "He even researched that doctor." Sakuno sadly looked away. "What's wrong?"
'I can't take that money.'
"But we don't have any money...unless you are prepared to be mute for your whole life."
Sakuno shook her head 'no.'
"Are you sure? Then again, it's not my problem, it's not me who can't talk." Atobe pretend to look away like he doesn't care. He sneak a peek at her. Then his expression changed. "No worries, I'll still take care of Sakuno-chan."
'I didn't say that I wouldn't go to Kyushu, I just can't take uncle Keigo-san's money'
"What are you saying?"
'Even though there isn't a lot in my savings, I want to use my own money.'
"You are absolutely right." He blurted out loudly. "We won't use old man's money, we'll use our own money...the important thing is that you're willing to go."
Sakuno gave a huge grinned. 'You an't tell Uncle Keigo-san about the money, or else he definitely won't be at ease.'
"Whatever you want Sakuno-chan, do you know how much I want to hear your voice?"
She couldn't help but laughed at Atobe.
The next morning, at their usual spot, Sakuno handed the two customers their food. '3 spicy, 2 not spicy.'
The customers just look at her confused. Sakuno tapped Atobe to get his attention. '3 spicy, 2 not spicy.'
"Oh, 3 spicy, 2 not spicy, a total of $500 yen, thank you."
"Shopkeeper, your unspoken agreement is very good, there are no sounds but only sounds of victory." One of the customer complimented.
"What 'no sounds but sounds of victory'? Let me tell you something..." Atobe put his arm around Sakuno's shoulder, "Next time you meet this shopkeeper again, she'll be able to talk to you, I promise."
Sakuno playfully hit him in the stomach with her elbow. The customers laughed then walked away.
"Thank you, come again." He said after them.
"Shopkeeper, one rice with roast meat please." A well dressed lady with a black folder in her hand ordered.
"Coming right up."
At the Aikawa's company.
"Come in." The person opened the door to reveal a dark green hair with golden orb talking on the phone. "I don't want to hear your excuses." he continue to be on the phone. "I will give you one hour to give me the correct report."
The person that knock on the door walked in with a bag, she walked over to his table and place a to go box on his desk.
"I will check up on you later." Ryoma said over the phone.
"CEO-san, your lunch." Said the secretary.
She left Ryoma alone.
Ryoma sat back down on his desk. He grabbed for the food, while looking at the computer screen he took a bit of the spoon. With such a familiar taste, he slowly chew on the food just to be sure if he was not dreaming. Can it be? He looked at the food, it was the same tasted he had been searching for.
He reach for the phone to beep the front desk. "Miko-san, where did you buy this food?"
"I brought it at a small fast food van not too far from here. It wasn't there before, it only recently started selling."
It was at that moment, his heart was pounding very hard. He was running as fast as he could, hoping that she is still there. However, when he arrived, the car or the person was no longer there. He looked away utterly disappointed and hurt. No...i came too late. Perhaps, it was not meant to be.
Not too far away, in the car, Sakuno looked at the spot that they have been selling their food there for one last time, for this will be the last day she and Atobe will come out to the spot again.
'Where are we going Atobe-kun?'
"It's a secret."
Knowing Atobe, Sakuno didn't persist. She quietly sat in her seat and waited patiently.
After a long drive, they finally arrived. So happy, Sakuno got out of the car. She closed her eyes and breath in the fresh air, the ocean, the trees, and the beautiful sunset. She came up closer to the water.
"Ne, it's time to eat." Atobe admired Sakuno from afar.
'Why did we come here?'
"I just thought that since we're saying goodbye to our van and Tokyo for awhile and it always took us to sell take away food that we almost never get to go anywhere else...so"
They both sat next to each other and ate. While eating, all of a sudden Atobe choked on his food. Sakuno quickly unscrew the cap and handed him the water bottle.
"It was too yummy."
'You always eat rice with roast meat with me, don't you get bored?'
Atobe smiled. "No, never. . .since you saved this last one especially for me, i'll never get bored of it."
She blushed but her smile changed to a frown. All these years, even though we're together it was always only one person who is talking. I often worry if Atobe-kun will get tired of it. With that last thought, they both continue to sit there together as the sun go down.
The next following day. Atobe and Keigo-san carried suitcases out to the taxi.
"Oyaji, take care of yourself ok?"
"If you can't sleep at night just watch a little TV or read a book, it will help you fall asleep better...also, in the morning do a little exercise."
"I know, I know."
"Get up earlier."
"I know already." Keigo-san chuckled at his silly son.
Inside the house, Sakuno looked around the house sadly. Obaachan, today i'm going to kyushu to see that doctor. Very soon, I will be able to talk. With that thought, she went outside.
"Come here Sakuno-chan..." Keigo-san waved her over as he saw her finally walked out. "Ok, remember to take care of each other, i've spoken to him already, he won't bully you when i'm not there."
"Oyaji, stop nagging, it's time for us to go."
"Okay, okay." Keigo-san walked with Sakuno to the taxi. He watched her get in. "If he bullies you, you call me, ok Sakuno-chan? Ja ne." He close the door. The taxi slowly drive off. Standing there, Keigo-san saw Sakuno waving bye to him in the car. He sadly waved bye back.
In the car, Sakuno sat back with a sad look. She was sad to leave her uncle behind to take care of himself alone. Atobe noticed her sad expression. He place his hand on her, giving it a little reassuring squeeze. She smiled a little. When I'm finally cured, I will personally ask him: Atobe-kun, are you tired of always being with me?
Back to Keigo-san, he walked back into the house to find a note with a package on the table. He picked it up and read:
Uncle Keigo-san, I know you love me, but I can't take this money. Don't worry! I will recover my voice, when I come back I will call your name. Take good care of yourself Uncle Keigo-san.
"I hope so Sakuno-chan, I hope so too." He said to no one.
Keigo-san woke up early the next day. He drove van to the usual spot where Sakuno and Atobe sell their takeaway food. Looking at the direction given by Sakuno, he tried to make the preparation right.
"Shopkeeper, I want one Rice with roast meat please."
"Hai, Hai, coming right up." Few minutes later. "Here you go, sorry for the wait."
"Thank you." The customer handed him the money.
"Thank you, thank you."
Keigo-san turned around. "What you want to order?"
Both Ryoma and Keigo-san are startled to see each other as their eyes met. Your job ends now. CEO-san, I will not explain anymore, but no matter what, you have to give me one more chance, CEO-san, I really can't do without this job. That day replayed in their head.
"These Rice with roast meat was made by you?" Ryoma asked.
Not happy to see him, Keigo-san replied harshly. "Yes, I'm doing business, if you're here to pick on me, I don't have time, please leave." He turned back around.
"Shopkeeper, two rice with roast meat. I want pork." the first customer said.
"And I want beef." Said the 2nd customer.
Ryoma sighed then walked away. Once again, he was disappointed.
Sakuno and Atobe finally arrived to Kyushu's airport. As they enter the island, they were both fascinated by their surrounding. Everything was beautiful and wonderful. Coming by a park with a big Satute of an abstract, Atobe yelled out with excitement. Sakuno laughed at him. Obaachan, i'm doing well. Everyone is nice to me. She held a star up in the sky. Can you see all this in lucky star?
They both arrived to a hotel that they will be staying for the next few days. 'Let's go up.' Atobe picked up the suitcases and followed Sakuno upstair.
The room they got was very nice, nothing luxury but it was good enough for Sakuno. It comes with two sofa, a coffee table, a tv and one twin bed. She frown. One bed will not do.
"If you're uncomfortable, I can ask for a second room."
'You're right, yet that way wastes too much money.'
Atobe smiled inside happily.
Sakuno took one of the suitcase. Unzipped it and pull out his white t-shirt and bath stuffs. She placed it in his hand. 'You first.'
"Shower?" Sakuno pushed him toward the direction of the bathroom. Without resisting, he went in, not forgetting to close the door behind him.
Looking at the big sofa, Sakuno went over and lied down to test if the sofa is comfortable enough. Satisfied, she left the room to go downstairs.
Few minutes later Atobe came out. "Sakuno-chan?" As on cue, Sakuno walked through the door, carrying a pile of blanket and a pillow.
"What are these for?"
'This is your bed.'
Without a second word, Sakuno went to her side of the room and close the curtain that divide the room.
"Sakuno-chan!" He sadly sighed in defeat.
The next morning.
'This way.' Sakuno stopped him.
He took a look at the sheet, "It's this way."
'Walk this way.' Sakuno insisted. She dragged him along.
After walking for awhile, they stopped a person. "Excuse me, can you show us where this place is?"
"You're going the right way, just keep going straight." Said the person.
Sakuno bowed her head to the person. She looked at him. 'I told you.'
"Yea, yea." He playfully stuck his tongue out at her. Together, they ran off toward their destination. Finally they arrived. "It should be here, but there are so many people." Outside the building, there were a lot of people standing in line. The building wasn't big, in fact, the building look kind of old and small.
'Let's try anyway, let's go in.'
"Everyone please be gentler, be gentler please." Sakuno and Atobe saw a guy dress in white t-shirt trying to calm everyone in the room.
"Excuse me, I'm here to see...-"
"You two are here to see the doctor?" The guy interrupted Atobe.
"Come, come with me..."
"Everyone please line up at the back." Said the guy. "What is your name?" Giving Atobe his attention.
"Ryusaki Sakuno." Atobe replied for Sakuno. "Sorry, we specifically came here from really far away, can you get us earlier in the line? Please?"
"Sure, I will try. Let's see, today is the 9th of October, so...i'll put you guys on the 1st of February of next year."
Sakuno and Atobe looked at each other then at the guy. "Nani? Ne, you're kidding right?"
The guy sternly looked at him. "Do I look like I was kidding?" He indicated the patients in line, "All these patients have come here specifically, just like you and a lot of patients haven't seen the doctor after half a year of waiting."
"Please help us."
Sakuno try to give her best pouted look. "We're from Tokyo...far away."
The guy hold up the appointment book. "There are people from Uzbek and there are people from Taiwan, they're waiting until March next year...farther than you so be lucky that I can get you in less than half a year."
Atobe and Sakuno sighed but Atobe didn't want to give up just yet. "Isn't there any other way?"
"There is, you guys can wait here." A younger looking guy spoke up, "But you'll have to come back tomorrow."
"Great!" Atobe said unenthusiastically. Sakuno was glad to hear that. "Excuse me, what time do you open?"
"8:30 am." The younger guy replied.
Both Sakuno's and Atobe's mouth dropped.
"I'll give you an advice." The older man spoke up, "If you're coming tomorrow, it's best if you come here and wait until it gets dark."
"I guess we don't have a choice, Sakuno-chan." Atobe said, so they both left the building.
Somewhere in Kyushu. "Hai, Shachou-san, we have contacted each other." Spotted a young girl dressed professionally said on the phone. One can tell by looking at her that she was not a happy looking girl, "Everything is going accordingly, no need to worry Shachou-san, thank you." Upon reaching outside, there are employees on both side standing and waiting.
"So damn tired, we've waited here for more than an hour now, only to help them bullshit." Said one of the employee.
"Of course," another said.
"Sore leg?" The young girl came up to the first lady. The lady taken by surprise of her presence, at the same time she was nervous and scared by the young girl's aura.
"A little bit." The lady spoke in a quiet voice.
"How about you rest for a little while?" The young girl sternly said.
"Thank you, Souchou-san." The lady walked away to go someplace to rest, not knowing that it can jeopardize her career.
The so called Secretary turned to the man next to her. "Give her pay and retirement fund to her."
The girl was known for her harsh and strict rules in the company. The other employees knew very well not to mess with her.
"I can't believe we wasted the whole day for nothing." Atobe frowned.
'It's all right Atobe-kun, we'll come earlier tomorrow.'
"It's not all right, I swear, I will definitely try to get you to see the doctor tomorrow." Atobe kicked a can in the street.
The can kept rolling but got stopped by another foot landing on it. The boy picked up the can. "Don't litter!" Said the boy, he threw the can into the bag he was carrying. "Littering is not only wasting resources but you'll get fined as well, i'll take it." He walked away, dragging a bag of cans he was collecting. Sakuno ran after him.
'Why are you collecting these bottles and cans?'
The boy giggled. "Oneechan, are you dancing?" He tried to imitate her hand signs but unsuccessful.
"Heh, Oneechan asked you, why are you collecting these?"
"To recycle, so I can earn money, half a kilo can earn you two ice creams."
Sakuno found the boy adorable. She ruffled his hair.
"Where do you live?" Atobe asked the boy.
"At the Roku courtyard."
"It's just back there." The boy pointed behind a building.
'Ne, let's go take a look, ok?' Sakuno was curious and wanted to check out the place.
"I've already guessed it!" The boy interrupted Atobe, "Isn't Oneechan saying that I'm good at earning money? That I'm really smart?"
Both Sakuno and Atobe laughed. "No, she said...-" Once again he was interrupted.
"No need for your translation, I can talk to Oneechan myself." The boy took a hold of Sakuno's hand. "Oneechan, i'll take you to the place where I live, ok?" Sakuno shook her head 'yes.' The boy dragged her away and Atobe just followed them behind; bewilderment by the boy's personality.
A car pulled up in front of the worn down building in a unclean neighborhood. "Roku courtyard," the person in the car read the sign outside the building, "This is the place for our construction?"
"Hai," the man in the passenger seat replied.
"How many haven't moved yet?"
"About three houses."
"Reason?" The young man asked in a monotone voice.
"Probably because they feel that the consolation fee is too little."
"Probably. About? I want a definite answer," the young man in the back seat said harshly. The guy in the passenger seat sweat with nervousness and uncomfortableness by the young man's aura. "If you don't want to disappear earlier than these buildings then don't let me hear these unsure words again."
Ryoma glanced at the building one last time before he returned to the company. At the same time the car drove off, Sakuno, along with Atobe and the boy arrived to the Roku courtyard.
Alright guys, it will not be another while until i update again but don't worry, i will not abandon this story. I'm very well determined to finish it! It's going to be a long long story so please, just sit back tight and wait patiently for my next update. Have great Year!
Comments and criticizes are welcome ^_^