One More Push
There was no way Tadase could stop. He was close, so close to Amu now that he couldn't and didn't want to stop. Despite knowing he might scare Amu, it was something he decided to risk if it will satisfy his hidden desires. Tadase proceeded to close his eyes, anticipating for the moment when their lips would touch.
BANG. The sudden sound shocked Tadase, causing him to jerk back away from Amu as he stared at the opened doors.
"What happened?" Tadase heard Amu asking besides him.
Making sure to protect her, Tadase quickly stood in front of Amu, waiting and watching patiently as the far shadowy figure made its way towards them. "Don't worry, I'll protect you," Tadase announced.
"Tadase," Amu uttered, finding it strange that he was so protective of her. She was at a loss to how she felt about it, but happy was certainly something she didn't truly feel.
"I'll definitely protect Amu," Tadase shouted anxiously.
"Exactly what are you protecting her from?"
"That voice," Amu whispered, gently shaking the suddenly tense Tadase, "don't worry, it's just Tsukasa."
"What happened?" a confused Tsukasa asked as he approached them. He looked from Tadase to Amu, "Tadase, you look really stressed." Tsukasa gently grabbed hold of his shoulders, "do you not feel well?"
"Are you ok?" Amu asked as well.
Tadase remained silent, slowly allowing himself to relax. He didn't know how to answer them, not knowing himself why he acted the way he did. But at that moment, he felt someone besides Tsukasa was there. Someone who would take Amu away from him.
"Tadase, I think you should get some rest," Tsukasa suggested, leading Tadase away. "Amu, be careful on your way home."
"Its fine, I'm alright," Tadase spoke up, "I'll take Amu home. It's quite late so…"
"I think you need to rest," Tsukasa insisted, not letting go of Tadase, "Amu is capable of going home on her own."
"That's right Tadase," Amu assured, "you must be tired. Get some rest. I'll be fine."
"Amu I…" Tadase wanted to protest, but Tsukasa stared at him with such a serious and firm expression that Tadase didn't know how to object any further. "Be careful Amu."
"Don't worry about me," Amu assured again, before turning to leave the church and closing the doors behind her.
Tsukasa let out an unnoticed sigh as Tadase obediently went back inside. It's not Amu that's in danger Tadase, Tsukasa thought, if I hadn't stopped him outside, the one who would be hurt is no doubt you… Tsukasa stared at the closed doors, I hope Amu will be ok.
Casually making her way home, Amu enjoyed the lukewarm fresh air. Spending time at the church with the kids was definitely the best decision she had made in a while. She felt relaxed and calm for the first time since she lost night Ikuto. It was also something to be relieved about, that she and Tadase can now be friends. Although, his strange behaviour a moment ago confused Amu greatly. SNAP. Amu stopped in her tracks, hearing the strange sound behind her. It was close. Very close to her. Is someone following me? Amu wondered in fear. She didn't dare to look back so she started to run. TAP. TAP. TAP. The footsteps behind her was getting louder. No way, Amu panicked, someone really is following me. I need to hurry home… Without thinking Amu desperately ran forwards. Faster, faster, Amu told herself, a little out of breath. She turned the corner, hopeful as she was only two more streets away from home. "MMPH," Amu tried to scream, a hand suddenly clasped around her mouth. Where did he come from? Amu struggled as his arm wrapped around her neck, pulling her into the side alley. HELP ME SOMEONE, Amu wanted to scream, but she couldn't even make one sound with her attackers hand firmly over her mouth. She twisted and turned her body, scratched at his arm, tried to step on his foot but nothing worked. He just held her there.
Amu stopped, immediately recognising his voice.
"Why did you…."
Amu closed her eyes, listening to him. Despite what he was doing, all her fears had disappeared. Ikuto, she repeated over and over in her mind. She had no will to fight him. She remained as still as he was, allowing him to hold her as he pleased.
"Why did you choose to go to another man?" Ikuto whispered, holding Amu closer to him. He removed his hand from her mouth, knowing she won't scream for help anymore. "Why have you been pushing me away?"
There was silence between them as Ikuto continued to hug Amu from behind. Time seemed to have stopped and unconsciously, Amu reached out for him. She took his hands, holding onto them, seeking more of his warmth, more of his touch. I thought I'd never feel like this again, Amu thought as she concentrated on his presence, right now, it feels like this is you…night Ikuto….
"Amu," Ikuto whispered, more gently than before, "turn around and face me." His hold around her loosened.
Amu didn't move, her grip on Ikuto's hand just tightened. She didn't want to turn around. She didn't want to turn around only to find herself looking at day Ikuto again. If even for a little longer, she can pretend and bask within this dream that he was the one holding her.
"Please," Ikuto requested again, his voice a little shaky.
I can't, Amu thought, noticing the sadness in Ikuto's voice. I don't have the courage to be let down another time.
Ikuto let go of Amu, gently moving his hands from her grip. She didn't turn around but felt Ikuto taking a step away from her.
"I never realised our distance had grown so far apart," Ikuto said sadly, "have I really become something so scary that you no longer want to stay by my side?"
Amu turned around, unable to ignore his words. "Ikuto," she whispered, staring at him. She clutched at her chest, realising her heart was now beating faster than ever. Both his words, and the Ikuto now standing before Amu had managed to unsettle her heart, unlocking all those crazy emotions she had once under her control. "Ikuto," Amu repeated, trying to figure out who she was looking at. She couldn't quite understand, but the aura around him right now, those slightly piercing eyes was no doubt night Ikuto's, yet his saddened expression belonged to day Ikuto. Who? Amu kept asking as she studied him. I'm scared to ask…to find out that the little trace of you is just my illusion. But I understand I need to move forward.
"Answer me," Ikuto said, still waiting for Amu's answer.
"I'm not scared of you," Amu answered, "I can never be afraid of you. I only fear losing you." Amu took a step towards Ikuto, making their distance zero again. She gently took hold of his hand, "Ikuto, can you hear me? Right now, are you night-"
RING, RING. RING, RING.
Ikuto picked up his ringing phone. "Hello Sion…yes, sorry about that. I was wanting to see you tonight so I called earlier. Ok. I'll pick you up later."
"You should go," Amu said as soon as Ikuto finished his brief conversation with Sion.
"You shouldn't make your girlfriend wait," Amu smiled. "I'm sorry I was acting oddly the past few days. I just had a lot on my mind. We're…the two of us will be fine. Between us, I promise it will go back to normal."
"If I did anything that made you feel uncomfortable," Ikuto said seriously, "promise you will tell me instead of avoiding me."
Amu nodded, her smile never disappearing. "You really should get going. I can go home by myself." Before Ikuto could object Amu continued, "You don't need to worry. This is a safe neighbourhood. The only one who would play a prank on me and attack me is probably you."
Both Ikuto and Amu laughed at her last comment.
"I'm sorry," Ikuto apologised, "I was confused since you were avoiding me. I guess my actions were a little overboard."
"They certainly were," Amu laughed.
Ikuto forced himself to laugh along with Amu. It wasn't a little and it wasn't just overboard, Ikuto thought, my actions may have meant something else, something even I don't understand. He remembered how he was desperate not to let go of Amu only minutes ago. Seeing her laugh now, and they were able to talk normally again, made Ikuto feel relieved. "Amu," Ikuto said, "I can never stop worrying about you. It's my duty to watch over you, to make sure you're happy." He leaned in and softly kissed Amu's forehead, "be careful going home. Promise you will continue to rely on me."
"I will," Amu promised, a gentle smile on her face. She watched as Ikuto left, like he always does. For the first time, she was able to smile honestly before day Ikuto. Something within her has changed. The moment when she got her answer; that it was day Ikuto, she came to accept fate. No matter how much she struggled, no matter how much she fought, no matter how much she wished, it was the truth that night Ikuto would never return. Today finally proved it. Night Ikuto was only a part of her memory, a part of her desire. If I can't be with him, Amu had resolved, at least I'll support him to finding his true happiness.
Back at home, Amu leisurely made dinner for herself, knowing Ikuto must be enjoying his date with Sion. Because of her feelings for night Ikuto, Amu hadn't thought nicely of Sion. Now that she thought more deeply about her though, Sion seemed like a nice person. "I hope everything goes well for them," Amu wished before she sat down at the table to eat.
Knock, Knock, Knock. "That shouldn't be Ikuto," Amu wondered, making her way to the door. "Utau," Amu greeted happily though she was surprised to see her. "You're back from your vacation? Come in."
A less enthusiastic Utau stepped inside the house.
"You should have told me earlier you were coming over, I would've made more dinner," Amu rambled on, "does Ikuto know your back? Have you told him? He's currently on a date with Sion so I don't know when he'll be back. You're welcome to stay over of course. Have you eaten yet? Should I make you something to-"
"Why do you sound like you're not affected?" Utau questioned. "Your man is on a date with another woman right now. Why are you here eating alone and greeting a guest?"
"I don't know what you mean," Amu said, her cheeriness gone.
"Don't you love Ikuto?" Utau continued to press, "You were willing to die for him before, so why aren't you willing to fight for him now?" Utau wanted to wait for Amu's answer but her anger took over and she went on, "You're going to give up on Ikuto, let him be with another woman after everything the two of you has been through. Don't be ridiculous Amu. Do something."
"There's nothing I can do," Amu shouted over Utau. "At first I didn't even know if I loved Ikuto or just night Ikuto. How can I be with him if I only love one part of him?"
"You know the answer now though," Utau argued.
"Yes I do," Amu said, "it was painful to see day Ikuto with Sion. That pain made me realise, it doesn't matter which Ikuto it is because if it is Ikuto, I love him."
"Then do something Amu," Utau demanded angrily, "don't just sit here and wait for him to return to you."
"There's nothing I can do," Amu repeated calmly, "I love Ikuto. But the only one who loves me the same way is night Ikuto. I can't force day Ikuto to change. I don't want him to be burdened with the same confusion and pain I went through. I love him and all I want is for him to be happy. It doesn't matter if his happiness isn't with me."
"Excuses," Utau criticised.
"Utau," Amu began, "to love Ikuto I need to move on. I need to move on from the past that will never be there in the future."
"So you give up," Utau challenged, "saying you are going to move on with all those pretty excuses. It's the same as saying I'm weak, I can't fight anymore so I give up. It's pathetic Amu."
"I wasn't expecting you to understand how I feel…"
"I don't need to understand," Utau burst out. "I and Kukai have been secretly watching over you two since we returned. Do you know how much time and effort we've spent in trying to help you two? And now, you're telling me you're giving up. That's the most infuriating thing I've ever heard in my life."
Amu stared at the angry Utau, uncertain how to continue their conversation. Why? Amu thought, every time I want to walk away, every time I come to an answer, there will always be something that questions it. Why is it that the world is pushing me towards Ikuto when the best option is to remain where I am?
"I saw everything that happened," Utau continued, "Do you think a father would hug his own daughter that way? Have you forgotten about the attack?"
"You saw," Amu gasped, "you were there?"
"I told you I saw everything," Utau said, a little calmer than before, "Amu, connect the two. Stop being blind to the facts and start thinking. The only logical explanations for Ikuto's actions, his behaviour…"
"Is if he was…" Amu didn't dare finish.
"I don't think Ikuto's happiness is without you," Utau stated, "a person can die but an identity, a personality and emotion can't really die. They simply change." Utau turned towards the door, "I'll tell you one more thing. Sion is not Ikuto's happiness. Stop being a coward. You are not moving on."
Amu let out an exhausted breath, hearing the door close shut behind Utau who left. "You don't understand," Amu whispered, feeling rather blank after her confrontation with Utau. "Day Ikuto is making sure he sees me as nothing more than a daughter. I can sense it. If possible, I too wish I don't have to move on…but it's just a wish."
Outside with a satisfied smile on her face, Utau got into the car.
"You really went and did it."
"Are you mad at me Kukai?" Utau asked, putting her seat belt on before the car started to move. "This isn't a part of our plans but I couldn't stand there and watch. She's pretty dumb not to figure things out, so I had to give her a push in the right direction."
Kukai let out a small laugh before he got serious. "I know we decided to help them but, I always wonder if we're doing the right thing."
"Bringing two people who love each other together will never be the wrong thing," Utau said confidently. "From watching Ikuto, isn't it obvious we were right? The symptoms that he is still there…"
"One more push," Kukai stated, "just one more push and they can be together."
Utau and Kukai smiled at each other, enjoying their little scheme and the results of it.
The following morning, a yawning Ikuto strolled out into the kitchen, watching Amu make breakfast. "I want an extra egg today and I want…"
"Breakfast will be served as usual with no changes," Amu said, flashing him an evil smile.
"You won't be a good wife in future if you're so stingy about details," Ikuto muttered.
"I am not," Amu protested, "next time, you need to tell me the previous night what you want. It's annoying to change this and that whilst I'm making it."
Ikuto yawned again, "right. Remember I'm picking you up from school tonight."
"Yes, Yes I remember," Amu answered, bustling around the kitchen, "Sion is coming over for dinner again. I'll make sure to cook something amazing."
"Thanks," Ikuto thanked with a smile.
"Although I think you should be the one to cook," Amu complained.
"I don't want to scare her away with my atrocious cooking," Ikuto stated.
Amu turned and sighed at Ikuto. After finishing breakfast, the two went their separate ways to school and work. A day at school hadn't been as enjoyable as it was now in a long time. Since Amu and Tadase had made up, they were acting more natural around one another. They even sat together for lunch with a confused Nadeshiko and Yaya. For the first time in ages, it felt like life was slowly returning to normal for Amu. A part of her couldn't forget Utau's lecture. She might be swayed with some of what Utau has said but right now, Amu wasn't prepared to change her decision to move on. This was for the best, for the both of us, Amu was convinced.
"I'll see you on Saturday then. The kids will be so excited once they know you're visiting again," Tadase said happily, before he headed back home.
"See you then," Amu said, waving back as she stood waiting for Ikuto to pick her up. Nadeshiko and Yaya had already left as of most the students. Amu stared at the massive clock on the school building. Ikuto was late.
"Amu," a familiar voice called out.
"Sion," Amu said, surprised to see her. Ikuto didn't say anything about coming with Sion. "Thank you. Did you come to pick me up with-"
"I'm here to pick you up alone," Sion smiled.
"But Iku…I mean father said he was going to pick me up tonight," Amu questioned. "Maybe I should phone him to double check?"
Sion's smile disappeared, "look Amu, don't make things difficult. There's a change of plan and I'm the one picking you up tonight."