Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Kazune Kawahara sensei and Viz America. I'm making absolutely no profit. Although I tremendously wish Yoh belonged to me.
Hiya! There are small things I want to explain and I'm hoping some of you will give me a minute or two to do so.
Seeing as this is originally a Japanese manga, I intend to keep honorifics and a few other cultural tidbits intact. That said, I'm not Japanese myself so feel free to shake your fist at me and correct me if I ever misuse anything. If there is anyone who is not familiar with said cultural tidbits, I provide explanations at the bottom of the page. I lived in Japan for a small period of time so most of the places and things I described are from my own experience. Other things are purely my imagination and google search. Again, fist shaking and rages are allowed if I get anything wrong. I don't get offended easily.
A warning. This story is being published cause I have time and it's sitting in my computer hard drive, gathering imaginary dust glaring at me. trying to push me into publishing it. It may not get completed. Or it may turn out like "Sun Faded Curtains" and end up trillions of chapters long. Let's hang on for the ride together, ok?
Off you go.
"Wahhhh! Everything is huge! Look at that building, Yoh! Are you looking at it? Waaaah!"
But he wasn't looking at it. He was still slightly glowering down at her though the expression was slowly sliding off his face. How could he remain sour at her; not when she was all but glowing beside him, her expression as excited and happy as he remembered it. She continued to ramble at high speed and he let her talk, taking his time to steal glances at her. He didn't want to be too obvious in his observations but she had changed since he'd last seen her. Granted, it had been over six months ago but time had been good to her. Her heart shaped face had filled out a bit, making her look older, more her age. Her eyes were still huge and full of wonder and excitement, something he thought wouldn't change no matter how much time went by. Her hair was longer, though he wasn't sure whether this was her real hair or extensions, like she had done on their Christmas date. He decided that he didn't mind the long hair. Nevertheless, a part of him had grown quite affectionate to her shorter style. Even though she had come wearing her over the top clothes, he couldn't deny the fact that she filled up her dress quite nicely. But he'd never tell her that. Hell, just thinking of it made his ears turn red.
"Are you listening?"
She had stopped in front of him, making him jerk back as to not run directly into her.
"What's wrong?" she asked, concern quickly flooding her eyes, "Is it the dress? I knew it was a bit much," she added sheepishly, "But Assa-chan said it looked ok."
She trailed off, looking a bit downcast. It was like looking at a kicked puppy.
"It's fine," he muttered and to her surprised, he smiled at her, "I think I've forgotten to be used to it."
"Used to what?" she raised her eyebrows curiously but he merely sidestepped her and grabbed the handle of her luggage. They continued to walk down, Haruna practically bouncing on the balls of her feet. He was taking her to her apartment, one he had found for her after she had given him the news: she would be going to Japan Women's College of Physical Education in Tokyo. She had been in tears over the phone, not just because of the prospect of getting accepted into a great college but also because she could finally, after "ages" as she had put it, FINALLY be by his side again. He had chided her, of course, not to exaggerate matters. A year apart was not 'ages' at all and it's not like they were dying without each other. However, she hadn't seen the fact that he had punched the air in triumph after she hung up nor did she realize that he had missed her a lot, more than he cared to admit. And having her by his side again, commenting on everything from the buildings to the teenagers by the sidewalk in their crazy attire, was like being back home again.
"This is the station," he steered her into it, his large hand warmly wrapping around her smaller one.
"Mm!" she smiled at their joined hands, and followed him down the steps.
After dropping her off, he had to rush off to work. An unfortunate fact but one that could not be denied. Besides, her eyes had glowed with stars when he told her about his internship and he could tell she was already imagining great (and highly unlikely) responsibilities which he was in charge of. He didn't tell her that he was starting from the very bottom of the working chain, a fact that anyone else would have obviously know. Anyone except Haruna, of course. He left her right outside the building and though he had turned beet red afterward, he hadn't denied himself a kiss from her, despite the onlookers. Now, slightly pink in the face and breathless, she looked up at the building and her new home. Up to now, she hadn't felt nervous or frightened at all. She had been with Yoh, after all. But now, alone and with the prospect of a new life, she felt her hand become sweaty and clammy.
"OK!" she pumped herself up, totally unaware of the strange glances from the elders around her doing their grocery shopping.
"Let's do this!"
She dragged her suitcase up the stairs outside the building and opened the entrance doors. A woman was waiting for her inside, casually chatting with an older woman who was leaning against a walking stick.
"Excuse me, I'm Haruna…"
"Ahh, yes, the new resident!" The woman who spoke seemed to be in her forties or fifties but her face still held traces of her younger years. She had a smooth, kind looking face, and her eyes twinkled as she looked down at Haruna's attire.
"My, you look precious, doesn't she, grandmother?"
The grandmother nodded, a smile lighting up her face. Unlike her companion, she was very old and wrinkly but no less kind-looking.
"You don't see young people wearing such beautiful dresses anymore," she commented, her voice a bit raspy but otherwise strong.
"Come in, come in, how rude of us…"
"Sorry to intrude…"
The lobby was spacious and homely. It had the feel of the two women, a place that looked and immediately felt like home.
"Auntie and I are usually around the lobby or the kitchen so if you need anything, don't hesitate to ask," the grandmother said, slowly disappearing into the reception office. When she came back out, the key to her new apartment was in her wrinkled hand.
"Here you go," she said, while the auntie called the elevator, "She'll show you around. I'll be staying the reception desk, ok?"
Haruna nodded and thanked her.
"I'll give you all the information you need," the auntie said once they were in the elevator, "but don't hesitate to ask if you don't know anything. It can be scary, moving into a new city."
She smiled kindly at Haruna who had to resist the urge to hug her. Already, she felt she was receiving too much kindness from strangers and couldn't help but think highly of Tokyo.
"Breakfast is from eight to ten and dinner is from eight to eleven. But if you're late for dinner, I can leave your meal out on the table and you can reheat it when you get back. You can buy meal tickets from grandmother, either single tickets or in packs. They're 500 yen each, yes? Just put them in the basket at the reception desk."
They got off at the eight floor and almost immediately to the left in front of the elevator, her new apartment door gleamed at her.
"Here you are," auntie handed her the key, "Remember we're always in the lobby, yes?"
"Thank you so much," Haruna smiled thankfully, and the auntie smiled back. Haruna had a feeling she too had moved to Tokyo at a young age. As the auntie headed back, Haruna opened the door and met her new apartment.
It was better than she had expected. The kitchen was directly to her left, stocked with an induction cooker, a mini fridge, and large sink. In front of the kitchen, to the entrance's right was the bathroom. Unlike the one at home, this one had both toilet and bath in one. She kicked off her heels and searched her luggage for her slippers. Once on, she stepped onto the carpeted floor. Pass the kitchen was the large single room with one bed, one desk, and the air-conditioner. She smiled at the small space and ran a finger across the white wall. With a sigh, she went to the curtain and pulled the open. The gasp that left her lips was sudden. Sliding open the balcony doors, she stepped outside to the noise and the wonderful view of Edogawa. The sun was high in the sky, kids were riding their bicycles while the adults chatted with one another, and birds chirped loudly all around her.
This was it. This was her new home. And Yoh, she knew, was somewhere out there, no longer hours and miles away but a mere train ride away.
She folded her arms on the railing and placed her chin on top. Closing her eyes, she smelled the sea and smiled.
It was time to explore.
"Where are you?"
"Huh? Oh, I don't know!"
She could have sworn she heard a growl.
"Didn't I tell you to stay put until I got back?"
She bit her kip, shuffling her feet like a child.
"But did you know the sea is right here?"
"That's not the sea, it's a river. Stay where you are, I'm coming to get you."
"I'm not by the river though…"
"So…where are you?"
"There's a park by the sea too, did you know?"
This time she definitely heard him growl.
"That park is huge! How am I supposed to find you?"
"I'm sorry! I'll go ask where the exit is."
"Do that and call me back."
Haruna felt sorry but not really. The river had been gorgeous and she had eaten a small bento there, wistfully wishing he had finished early and joined her. After waiting around by the river for a while, she had meandered around and by chance she had found herself in the park. But Yoh had been right, the park was huge and after an hour, she found herself quite lost. Worse, there was no one around to ask for directions. After fifteen minutes of walking around and looking (only once did she procrastinate but she had found a really cool looking flower. It had taken all her might not to touch it and see if it felt as fuzzy as it looked) she finally found a nice older man to ask directions for the nearest way out of the park. He had helped her nicely enough though he felt the need to hold her hand to point out the directions. Maybe this was how Tokyo people were. He didn't seem like a bad man to Haruna anyway.
Her phone rang.
"I'm almost at the exit."
"I'm here already."
She walked quicker, her phone dangling from her hand. She started to recognize the signs from where she had started and sighed in relief. Once she was at the gate, she looked around while dialing his number.
"Where are you?" she asked, still searching for Yoh.
"At the exit."
"I don't see you though."
There was a pause and then a sigh.
"You did ask for the exit, right?"
She bit her lip nervously again. No, she hadn't.
"No you didn't. You probably asked for the nearest way out."
She felt her jaw drop.
"Just….just stay there."
The connection was cut off and she continued to bite her lip nervously. Aghh, I'm was always causing Yoh trouble, she thought regretfully, it's a wonder he hadn't completely reached the end of his patience with me.
She looked around, hoping for a bench or something to sit on. She had been under the sun for more than two hours and it was wearing her off. Though it was still spring, she could feel summer slowly coming. Nothing else but the Japanese sun and humidity could make her this tired.
She flopped onto the nearest bench and sighed. She wondered rather guiltily if he was upset at her. No sooner had she finished her thought when she felt his shadow fall over her. She looked up at him nervously, clapping her hands together in front of her.
"Sorry!" she said instantaneously.
But he didn't look angry. He snorted and shook his head.
"You really are something else."
After a quick glance at her attire, he turned around and showed her his back.
"You look tired," he said to no one in particular, "climb on."
Her eyes widened in surprise.
Even though she couldn't see him, she imaged he rolled his eyes in that exasperated way she always seemed to draw out of him.
"You want to walk back then?"
"NO!" she hopped onto the bench but hesitated. Should she drape her legs around him first? The thought made her blush. Maybe it was best to leave a bit of distance between them once she was on. But she didn't want to. Should she place her head on his right shoulder or left? What if she was too heavy for him? Would he regret carrying her?
"What are you waiting for?" he snapped, clearly irritated. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously at her, "What are you thinking?"
"Nothing, nothing!" Haruna waved her hands wildly in front of her, blocking her thoughts from his x-ray vision. He rolled his eyes at her again.
"Well, hurry up."
She snaked her arms around his neck and felt his arms do the same towards her back. With a pull, he heaved her on in one quick, fluid movement. He started to walk but she couldn't concentrate on the scenery anymore.
She could feel every single one of his fingers.
"You know, it's dangerous to walk around by yourself around places you don't know."
His deep voice rumbled in his back and into her chest. It was like touching rolling thunder. She hid her face in his shoulder, trying to hid the blush that spread across her cheeks. She discovered that he smelled clean and crisp with a light musky scent, like wood. She knew she would cherish that smell from now on.
"Sorry," she tried to say but she doubted it came out properly. Her voice was caught somewhere in her chest.
They traveled in silence, the sun setting somewhere behind them, completely unnoticed by both of them. After an entire year, this was the first time they had come into contact and both were cherishing it completely. Bashfully, he leaned his head to the side and bumped her forehead. She smiled at his way of showing affection and kissed his cheek, causing him to almost drop her. She couldn't help the laughter that bubbled out of her. She thought she was a lost cause most of the time but she almost forgot he was just as shy (if not more) than she was.
Her laughter was infectious and soon they laughed loudly as she swung her legs around, causing him to lose his balance. They yelled and shouted when she cupped her hands over his eyes and almost lead them straight into the river. And laughed even more when he spun her around, causing her to hide her face in his neck once more.
She hoped the walk back to her apartment would never end.
~chan: cute, almost childish way of calling someone. Best friends use it with one another, a mother and her child, and so on. It's very informal and mostly used by women.
~kun: male version of chan. Also used when a higher up is speaking to a person in a lower 'position'. It's informal and used by males, although once in a while you'll hear it used with women too.
~ san: This is the default when speaking to anyone. It's like Mr/Ms. It's polite and should always be used when you don't know a person.
Yoh and Haruna call each other by their first names without any honorifics (at least in the translated versions of the manga). This is a huge indication that they are in a close relationship. It can also be extremely rude to call someone you don't know by their first name.