Chapter 18: Silent checkmate

Hino Kahoko: my opened heart

Looking at the starry sky pains me as if my heart has been piercing by a silver knife. The thought of rain, is passing through my sight and slipping, only to be drawn into the earth. His beautiful brilliance releases forth a bright light that strikes me with both love and confusion. And therein lays the reason why I let forth my sigh and had the urge to steal his heart!

Tsukimori Len: my hidden heart

Time has quantity and also quality. Under the spell of the linear timeline, I was counting the dates and didn't measure the quality of my time. Until now, the numbers of my days have turned into millions but they have won over quality, only with YOU!

"So, which exit should I take? "

His deep, masculine voice penetrates into my mind and I'm already lost. I'm just glaring at a huge, opened map which is resting on my lap. The lines and city names are blurry… They are having a loud party in my brain and I feel like I'm in a maze…

"Hmmm… take the exit I-2…" I'm not so confident. How could I be? I'm the worst navigator! And on the top of everything, I have no idea how to read a map! But how could I refuse his request?

And… how did we get into this situation?

"Len! Why are we running to the airport? "

I just packed my clothes in a luggage while he was waiting for me in the lobby of the condo. Akihiko caught me and I had a 5-minute conversation with him… "You are so weak… you fell in love with your first, male roommate… anyway, if you need me, you know how to find me! " His words were hurting but somehow I understand his feelings. Then he kissed me… noooo why do I remember on the kiss now? OK… our lips met, only for a moment, but still! And his whispering syllables: "I love you as a woman… never forget this! " How could I forget?

So, we were running to the airport to catch the plane but… Len bought the tickets in the last moment and we could only get seats on the coach (in front of the lavatory… ) and the destination was not Vienna but Munich.

The flight was a complete disaster. But it was not uninteresting because… I discovered something about Len!

He was reading during the flight and his right arm was resting on the elbow rest… people were making a line to the lavatory and accidentally, they pushed his arm. He responded with a 'half-polite' nod and 'no problem' but I was studying his expression. If you look closer… his lips curved down with 2 millimeters! It was hardly recognizable but I could claim victory in my discovery! Also, he knit his brows just a little higher. He was angry! So, he could show emotions! Tsukimori Len knew how to look angry. OK… just a little bit, but I was merry as a sand-boy! On the other hand, I totally understood his reaction…

One time, I also visited the lavatory and I opened the door too fast and… I just heard an 'Ouch' from someone… A man was kneeling in front of the door, looking for Len's pen and I hit him with the door, while he fell back and landed on Len's legs! That was the last straw for my ice prince! He remained silent for the rest of the flight and I believe that he didn't even sleep…though his eyes were tight closed!

In Munich… a surprise struck me…

"Are we going to take the train to Vienna? " This was my first assumption…

"No. I want to rent a car! " His face was serious and hard… nobody could argue with him but I didn't get his twisted logic. Didn't he feel tired? It's like 6 hours driving… or even more…

"Why? " A credulous question left my lips.

"It's better… " This was his answer. Though, it didn't satisfy my curiosity. "Can you be my navigator? "

He rented an expensive car for a whole week. We stopped at a nearby restaurant for dinner and he bought a Germany-Austria map at the first gas station on the highway. The map had become my new friend… or enemy… It's just too much responsibility. If we get lost, he will blame me for sure!

A silent sackbut strikes my ears when I look at the rear view mirror and study the color feast on the ink firmament. It's getting dark… really dark! What should I do? It's not enough that I'm bad with maps but how can you get a better view if it's dark?

And I also don't know what should I do with Len… we haven't had a proper conversation since we left Japan. What if…

"Are you OK? Your cheeks are red…" His staring eyes are glued to my face for a second then he averts his head back to the road.

"Yes. I'm fine…" I lie… I feel sick… and tired and I'm afraid of his reaction. I'm still not sure if he loves me but he flew to Japan just to get me… didn't he?

Will he hate me when I share my past? I'm such a coward. Why couldn't I make him sit down and listen to me before we took the flight? Maybe he won't need me after he hears my explanation.

"We're going to stop at a small village…" He interrupts my mental battle.

"Sure…" Kahoko! Get a grip of yourself! "Len… I…" Why is it so hard? Just say it! "I… I should tell you something… mainly about my past! " Bingo! Good job Kahoko! You have started the conversation!

"I know everything. We shouldn't talk about something that… doesn't affect us anymore!" He is really calm and composed. But I still can't read his expression. His mother should have told him…

"Do…do you hate me?" The critical question and I don't need the answer. Akihiko also blamed me because it was easier for him.

Silence surrounds us…

I knew it…

He does hate me…

Then…what am I doing here?

I ruined his healthy life… his sight, his burn, and causing him to be alone… without a sibling. I'm just the indirect cause of more people's sorrow but still… it's the best to take the blame. Probably, that's why he is cold and antisocial.

"No. I don't. I don't have any reason."

His right hand abandons the gearshift and seeks for my knee. He lingers there for a while, causing me a heart attack! When he gets bored, he reaches for my hand and keeps it. Our hands are intertwined for several minutes and then his index finger begins caressing my fingers. He starts with my pinky finger: first the outer side, very slowly, then around, and lastly my nails. He repeats the movement on my ring finger and with the others until my thumb.

I have a heartless beating! He's giving me the illusion of freedom! The freedom of love and being loved! He explodes my senses with mere touches! I'm acting like a teenager… blushing and shaking under the touch of the beloved man: flushed cheeks, shaking muscles, heavy respiration… it's just a raging thunderstorm inside my body!

Len should use the gearshift as we are heading to the exit… the loss of the comfort of his hand is painful… Good-bye… torrid, space filling sensation! Just like a sudden, frigid breeze during a flowerful springy night…

Nothing could recompense for the lost touches and caresses… Not even the sweet air…

I'm a little bit disappointed. I wished to talk more about 'my past'. It's not pleasant but he settled down the conversation with a simple statement. I have to admit that his words reassured me but I'm craving for more. His sweetness should be brought up to the surface… I know he is capable of it!

"I'm coming back in thirty minutes. Do you want to stay in the car or go to the gas station and eat something? "

His eyes are waiting for my reply, but I'm totally confused. Where is he going? And why doesn't he invite me?

"I…I will go to the gas station…" I'm not gonna stay in the car, alone! I can use the restroom and get a strong coffee before I fall asleep. It's like 5 more hours driving.

"Fine, see you! " He grabs his valet and locks the car. What is the mystery for?

I'm taking my time in the restroom: washing my face with cold water is the best idea so far. I need to be fully awake. Oh nooo.. My sight in the mirror is terrible. I have dark circles under my eyes and I'm worn out.

I had my coffee and some crackers but he is still not here. Does he plan on leaving me behind? Then why would he mention he's going somewhere? I'm afraid… really…

But a light blue haired young man appears on the horizon and he is coming closer to my sitting pose.

"Sorry… I made you wait. " He grabs my hand and leads me to the car. "This is for you…" A cold bracelet is placed on my wrist.

"What's this? It's… gorgeous! " It's an oval shaped pendant. A single rose is carved in the dark colored gem stone. The flower's color is ivory. There is another gem stone in the middle of the rose, it's tiny, and it sparkles. The bracelet itself looks white gold.

"It's a cameo bracelet. " I heard about it before. It was really famous in the Victorian era. Mostly, royal women used them, probably they had a whole set of cameos. It's feminine.

"Thank you but you sho…." I can't finish my sentence because he places his index finger on my lips! Does he intend to kill me with a heart attack? My boiling blood rivers meet in the estuary of my cheeks… It's hot… too hot.

"Sssssss… it's a gift from me. If you don't like it, just don't wear it. " He turns back to the wheel and leaves the parking lot.

What a man! He would be offended if I refuse his gift… but gift… for what?

"I love it!" I pout and caress the bracelet with my fingers. He has a minuscule smile, carving up at the edge of his lips.

"Did you study the map? I need to know the next exit." He heaves and I can bet that he is aware of my ignorance.

"Of course…" I lie again. I was only anxious but I didn't have in mind to re-read the map. And I don't have more intentions to deepen my relationship with this piece of annoying paper!

It's been like 2 hours that we are on a desolated area. It's dark. It's a forest. And the road is winding. Well, Kahoko, what did you expect from a mountain area? But this is really not good. Len is taciturn since we left the highway. And he doesn't complain about the road but it's more than obvious that we are LOST!

"Kahoko…" Here it comes! I'm trembling… but he hasn't even finished his sentence.

"Yes…" I sound like a screeching note on a violin.

"We are lost, aren't we?" He's looking at me from the edge of his right eye. And he is scary.

"I…I don't think so…" Denying the axiomatical fact will cause more damage for sure but I just can't admit that I'm extremely lame with maps.

He stops the car… it doesn't matter that it's the middle of the road because in the two hours, I have seen only 1 car besides us.

"Len! " He opens the door and escapes from the car… I cannot do much just trail after him. But it's so cold and scary outside.

"Why didn't you tell me…? " He is holding his head in his palms. You would think that he has a serious headache. Probably, he has one as a result of my poor navigation.

"About…" He steps closer to me and envelops me between his arms. I hang my fingers on his shirt just like some kind of bird is clinging on a branch…

"You're trembling. What's wrong? Are you afraid of something, or are you just cold?" His concerned words calm me down and begin to believe that he holds sensitive feelings for me. Oh God! It would be the dream of my dreams!

"Both…" I whisper but he strokes my back in a gentle manner. His fingers are like feathers… it feels… amazing.

"I'm here…" I tighten my grip on his shirt… This forest gives me goose bumps. We should get going, but where? I have the same sensation from him like from Akihiko. Those caring and protecting arms give me comfort and safety…but Len is not Akihiko…

"Len? " I look up just to meet his eyes. "Yes. We are lost. " I avert my gaze…but his left hand reaches for my face and direct my sight back to his eyes. "I'm sorry. " It's my fault…

"Where is the map? I'm exhausted. " I guess 'exhausted' is an understatement. He looks like a zombie, but a very handsome zombie!

After 3 more hours of driving… we have reached Vienna. Finally! It's already early morning… I tried my best to read the map and help out Len. He needs to sleep! Well, I also have to sleep but it's not that important.

Home sweet home… I mean… It's Len's house, not mine!

What is this horrible smell? Is it smoke? Did he have a barbeque in the kitchen?

"Len… did you burn your kitchen down? " I verbalize my first assumption.

"No…" His curt answer echoes in the living room. He lights some fragranced candles just to cover up the stinky air. "Let's go to sleep!"

He holds my hand and I'm following him. Oh NO! Does he want to sleep together? I'm happy but I'm not ready! I'm not ready! How will I tell him? Oh God, he is heading to his… his… ROOM… my heartbeat is like a fast drum… why can't I swallow that ball in my dry throat?

He pushes down the doorknob… and our hands are still clasped together.

"Do you like it?" My fingers lose the warmth of his hand when Len's pointing at a small fish tank. It gives home to two horse fishes. There are some plants and a stone castle in it. It's fabulous!

"Yes! When did you…?" He embraces me again, but this time with more force. I can sense his quivering muscles in his arms… Len, what do you want to say? What do you long for?

"Sleep well! You know where your room is! "

Again… this loosing sensation makes me shiver under my skin. I just hug myself with my two arms… my head is nesting on my right shoulder and I struggle to engrave his scent into my memory…

"Len! Sweet dreams!" I whisper to myself and shut my door.

What might dreams do when they are sleeping? Do they reborn in the cosmic firmament? They are just like the sparkling stars! During the night, they spread their light just to guide you to your dreams and during daylight, they reborn in your daydreaming…just to guide you through the difficulties in life…

Daydreaming is not a poison. Daydreaming is born from the glistening stars in your eyes. It nests in those drowning valleys of your melting orbs and anytime it fails… crystals are welling up…just like now…

"Len… can you…talk about Sakura? "

We have slept like 4 hours then ate lunch outside. He didn't let me cook… though I wanted to. Now…well… we are playing chess! And it seems I will lose because he is looking at me with goo-goo eyes and his lame reason was: 'I try to figure out your next move!' So, he is glaring at my eyes for several minutes before he takes a move.

"Sakura Robertson… her father is American. " He heaves then moves a pawn. I believed that he would refuse to talk about her.

"She… she… is just a little girl and I made her suffer because of my selfish purposes. " I'm sure what he is talking about but he doesn't go into details. This is a huge step that he agreed to say at least this little about the incident.

"Sakura is fine now. One time she mentioned a music fairy that she can hear him and the fairy promised her a magic violin…" A gentle smile laces his lips and somehow I can relate myself to this fairy and to the magic violin… It's good to know… Now, I'm not that surprised.

He's holding my gaze in his gilded eyes, just like my left hand is resting in his right hand.

"You've lost…" He knocks down my vanquished king and grabs the queen in his palms. "Let's practice the Butterfly lovers, shall we? "

I docilely follow him to the balcony and we begin playing at the same time. I'm wondering who will play the solo part… It will be Len for sure or maybe Kiriya…

His face reflects calmness and he is composed. I don't see any more hesitation in his eyes. I should do the same and be a proper queen for him. I need to be a fearless queen who says what's in her heart! Even if he refuses my feelings, I just must share with him! Even if those daydreams will never be reborn in my night sky… they will remain my most precious dreams! Forever! I will be forever your conquered queen! Will I be able to fight over my cowardice and open my heart?

Million thanks for reading and I'm super grateful for the reviews and supports! You don't have any idea how much does it mean to me! I'm extremely happy!

I'm sorry, I'm late with this update but I was really busy :(

About this chapter... I know, it's kind of 'sloppy'... but this is a 'bridge' and I needed this chapter to be like this... the whole chapter is kind of metaphorical, hope you understand why. Len is still hesitant, but he is melting up ;)

Hope you still like this chapter... it's not so interesting, it's more...emotional from the side of Kahoko... just too many feelings are welling up in her heart and ... well I don't want to be a spoiler ;)

Ah... it seems: No more Len's POV ;)

2 more normal chapters + the epilogue ;) there will be one more problem ;)

Next chapter: Easter Snowball ;) (kind of funny, romantic, and resolutions for problems)

Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you know what to dooooo, you would make me really happpppyyyyyy, pleaseeeeeeeeee review :$

I'm still thinking of Japan... please, keep your prayers!