Ch. 4 I'm just a big kid.
Akira, dressed and ready to go to work, stood just in front of her apartment door staring at the phone in her hand and the number that was displayed. Had it only been yesterday? Had it even really happened? The memory of it replayed over and over again.
Toua's confident grin, as always made her nervous but excited and altogether in amazement.
"Ah, we have an audience." He said casually, his arm still tight around her, glancing behind Akira. In utter embarrassment she shoved her face into his jersey to hide it. A tick of annoyance had her eyebrow twitching, how dare he!
"Oi, what are you doing?" He asked amusedly. On instinct her right hand unclench and untangled from his shirt, snaked it's way around his arm and smacked him. Toua, for a moment was surprised but then he laughed well more like a small chuckled escaped but she heard it.
"Still just as violent I see. It's your fault though." He said. Akira disentangled herself and put a modest distance between them, her face still aflame.
"You…you…" Toua waited patiently for her to get her scrambled thoughts in order. She took a cautious peek behind her and caught sight of their audience and grimaced. Toua snickered.
"You may look like an adult, but your exactly the same Akira." It was that look again the one she had seen on Keisuke's birthday. That soft look, the impossible one that you would think he was unable to wear.
"Your timing stinks though." He said that look gone in an instant and his holier than thou look back but with a teasing smirk.
"Well excuse me, I had no clue you were in Tokyo, and when I saw you I suddenly rushed here I didn't think about convenience." She said standing at straight as she could. Toua nodded his head as if this was expected.
"Suddenly rushed here? Well that's expected." He said. Akira let out a small huff and a familiar comfort welled up in her gut, the feeling you get when you come home after a long vacation. She smiled at him and shook her head.
Toua had some sort of meeting to attend, and she had to get home in time to get some sleep, even though she barely got any with thoughts of the adult Toua constantly spinning around in her head. They had said a quick 'see you later.' And she had fished out her business card and gave it to him.
"Call me or I'll kill you." She had said. He had taken it without a word.
Now as she stared at her phone she was…not in shock but something similar. The minuet she had boarded the train home her phone had vibrated. Toua had sent her a message.
'Tomorrow eat dinner with me. Toua.'
She had replied as quickly as she could, like he would change his mind in the two seconds it took for her to reply.
'I get out at six. I'll meet you wherever.' She had texted. As soon as it was sent she wanted to take it back and text something cooler. I'll meet you wherever? Seriously? What a moron. What was she a love sick high school kid? Well…she wouldn't think about it. She had glanced at the text every now and then since the train ride home. He had texted her an address, and that was it, the extent of the conversation.
Akira sat in her office, a stack of files on either side of her desk. Normally she would be shouting at interns for this or that, and normally her department was hectic. The interns and her assistant were curiously glancing at her closed door some in relief and some in worry. Not to say that Akira was a bad boss, or was abusive to her staff she was simply demanding.
At her desk she tried to concentrate of the case file in front of her, but after a few seconds the pages blurred together and she found her mind wondering off to him. She shook her head and tried to read again. A knock at her door surprised her and she jumped in her chair.
"Yes?" she said after collecting herself and sitting up straighter. Her assistant Yuyama Miho poked her head in and nervously smiled at her boss.
"Ms. Kusanagi, an intern is going to get coffee would you like some?" she asked good-naturedly. Akira blinked at her before nodding her head.
"Yes, please." She said before looking back at her files. Miho stood in the doorway, nervously lingering and switching her weight from one foot to the other. Akira looked up again, somewhat confused.
"Is there something else?" she asked. Miho smiled at bit unsure if it was in her best interest to ask Akira if something was wrong.
"Uh, well you see the staff and I was wondering if you felt a bit under the weather today? You seem…well it's just that…" Miho trailed off. She adored Akira and respected her, but just like everyone else in the company save Aihara she found Akira intimidating. But she was Miho's boss, and she and the staff were worried.
"It's just that I usually have you all running around like chickens with you heads cut off, right?" Akira asked frankly and not a bit insulted. She knew how she treated her staff, if you wanted to work for her you had better be able to take it. After all nothing she said or did was personal, this was business. Miho's eyes widened a bit and she fidgeted with the door knob.
"Yes ma'am." She said preparing herself for a berating speech about how the staff should be worrying about the current case and not the boss's welfare.
"I don't think this case will be difficult at all, I doubt it will go to court. I think you and the staff can handle that without me, now about that coffee." Miho suddenly nodded and excused herself. She closed Akira's door softly and turned around to see the entire staff staring anxiously at her. Miho's face was flushed and a small smile played at her mouth. Moving closer to everyone she motioned for them to get closer.
"She said that we a capable of handling the case on our own!" she said as if this was high praise. Every jaw in the room went slack and suddenly everyone was looking towards the boss's door.
"Something is definitely up; she even said please when I offered her coffee." She finished.
"Good god, this is it. She's either going to fire us all, or kill us off." One intern said a serious fearful look on his face.
"Oh shut it, just get her some coffee."
Akira glanced at her digital clock on her desk and sighed. It felt like an million hours since she had handed off the final draft of some prenuptial agreement to Miho. It had only been fifteen minutes. Now she was just frustrated, she felt like pulling at her hair and smacking her face into her desk. The mental image made her smile sardonically.
"That's it. I can't concentrate like this." She said sliding her chair back and standing up while stretching her arms. Today she was in a stylish white pant suit, with a red blouse that had clear sequence sewed on in the shape of different flowers. Her hair which she had cut short again was pushed behind her ears and curled around them. She grabbed her white matching jacket and slipped it on before grabbing her briefcase and shoving a few files in it her cell phone and her wallet. She turned off her lights and walked out of her office only to find everyone glancing at her from their work.
She turned to Miho, whose desk was just outside Akira's office.
"I'm taking the rest of the day off; I have a personal matter to attend to. Please make sure all today's work is complete." With a slight awed nod from Miho she stalked out of the department wondering why her staff looked at her like she was some sort of alien.
Once Akira was out of ear shot an intern exhaled loudly.
"Uwah! She left early! I've never seen her leave early." He said with a frown.
"She said a personal matter, wonder what's up?" A slender quiet intern asked readjusting her thick glasses.
Akira stood in front of her closet in naught but a plain white bra and matching boy short cut panties. Her hands were placed on her hips as she stared at the clothing inside as if she were about to plan a strategic attack.
"He didn't even tell me what sort of place we're going." She whispered to herself. She looked at the mirror on her closet door and stared at what he had reduced her too. She knew she didn't have dress to impress him. Hell he'd probably be more impressed if she showed up naked. But she wanted to look nice, and to have him think she looked nice. She face palmed at the thought.
"Baka." She said before grabbing an old comfortable pair of beige cargo pants, a sky blue polo shirt and an expensive pair of white sneakers that she had never worn before.
"I dare him to complain." She told her reflection. Then she was in the bathroom mentally debating whether she should redo her makeup or not. She barely applied any for work, just mascara and a lightly tinted lip balm.
"Leave it." She finally decided. Then she decided to watch TV to waste time. In reality this would be their first date. They had mainly hung out with the gang those last five days, and time together alone was hard to come by. It was his entire fault of course. It was confusing; she hated women who got worked up over this sort of thing. Wanting to be perfect for their date, stressing out over what to wear, what to talk about or if she should do anything particular. She had never gotten why they giggled and said 'Do you think he'll like this?' but now she sort of understood. It had been a long time; she wondered if she really was the same Akira he said she was. So she questioned and doubted, and found herself asking that dreaded question.
'Will Toua like the way I'm dressed? Will I be acceptable now?' so for the next three to four hours she tried to watch TV, and told herself many times to shut the hell up, it's Toua for god's sake.
Akira was relived she had dressed casually. She hadn't even had to take a train to get to the restaurant that Toua had set as the date. It was an old looking bar and grill sort of place with alfresco seating and also indoor seating. She stepped out of her cab and walked in and instantly spotted his blonde hair at the bar. For a moment she felt like she was at Big Mamma's bar again, all her earlier nervousness and doubt vanished at the sight of him. Why was she worrying? Toua was her friend, and more than anyone her knew her and accepted her.
She pointed to him and told the hostess who was about to ask her if she was meeting anyone, that she was with him. She walked over and as she had always done in Big Mamma's gave his head a playful flick. Toua turned and smiled a smile that told her he remembered the tradition.
"Have you been here long?" she asked as she took the stool next to him. Toua waved over the bar tender as she asked.
"I only just got here, want a drink?" He asked her as the bar tended smiled at her and welcomed her respectively.
"I'll have what he's having." She said pointing a thumb a Toua who had a tall frosted mug with amber beer in it. For a moment it was all silent, they both stared at the bar.
"So-" He said.
"Have-" She said. They both smirked at each other before her beer was sat in front of her.
"How have you been?" She asked first and then taking a generous gulp of her beer. Toua shrugged his shoulders and angled his seat so that he faced her. Akira's brow rose and she shook her head.
"You play for a professional baseball team and all you can do is shrug your shoulders?" she asked and the chuckled.
"That's recent, up until a few months ago I was still in Okinawa." He said sliding a menu towards her.
"How did it happen? I mean I just never pictured you…I mean you never really spoke about the future so I'm a little surprised." She said opening the menu and scanning through it.
Toua simply stared at her. It was almost not enough to just look. It was almost like the seven years had only been seconds and time had barely passed.
"I didn't plan anything if that is what you're wondering." He said leaning an elbow on the bar and resting his chin on it.
"I lost a game, and was kidnapped somewhat." He finished again waving the bar tender over. He looked back at Akira whose mouth was ajar and hanging to the floor. Well almost. His grin widened and he chuckled before using his free hand to close her gaping mouth.
"You lost? YOU? How? You're not in trouble are you?" she fired questions out in an astonished fury.
"Everyone loses every now and then, but your confidence in me is pleasing." He said enjoying her shock. Akira's shoulders slumped a bit, and she shook her head. To think even Toua could lose was disheartening.
They ordered their food and caught up on everything they had missed with each other. It was as if there was nothing either of them wanted to miss.
"So then you did it, you're a lawyer now." He stated just as they had finished eating. Akira suddenly felt a bit embarrassed and a fanit pink tint covered her cheeks.
"Yeah, I am." She said softly. Her whole face had softened and Toua's hand instinctively went to ruffle her hair. It even surprised him, the ease with which they had picked up right where they had left off.
"I bet your family is proud, especially your mother." He said quietly and with a genuine smile. Akira beamed at him and then gave a cute little laugh.
"I think so."
Toua paid for their dinner and drinks though Akira had said she would pay for the drinks at least, but the 'I dare you.' Look Toua sent her shut her up real quick and she stubbornly thanked him.
They walked out and decided to take a walk down the busy street.
"I live around here so it wasn't far, what about you?" she asked as they subtlety took a step towards one another.
"It's not far, ten minutes by train, I have an apartment in Saitama." He said pulling out a cigarette and lighting expertly. He put one hand in a pocket of an expensive looking pair of black pants. Akira chuckled, and that turned into a snicker. Toua looked over at her a question in her eyes.
"You know, you look like one of those yakuza movie stars." She said after calming her silent laughing. Toua looked down at himself and then gently smacked the back of her head.
"It's cool, I like it." She said simply rubbing the spot her smacked. She and Toua shared a look while waiting for the crosswalk sign to change.
"You've no idea Toua, how much I have missed you." She said before her easily stained cheeks grew rosy and she looked at the street again. Toua smirked and let out chuckle.
As they crossed the street a wickedly awful thought crept up from the blackest part of her brain.
'You cut contact with him.' It said. Akira's complacent smile drooped.
"Uh, hey Toua." Instantly Toua stopped, her tone of voice was off.
"What?" he asked tossing his spent cigarette into a nearby trashcan. Akira looked up at him and then felt so guilty that it hurt, she motioned to an empty bench and without really saying anything went and sat on it.
Toua, who had a nagging feeling about what this, was about followed coolly.
"I think I should just get this out of the way." She said suddenly, her hands clenched together in her lap.
"Alright then." Toua said leaning back and draping his long arms on the bench.
Why was it so hard to just say, hey I screwed up my bad, how would he react? She had to do it now though, no more miscommunication an early established rule.
"I want to…well it's. I guess really all I can do is say that I'm sorry. I should have called or written or…something. I could have but I didn't and for that I am really sorry Toua." She said quietly. For what seemed like a really long sixty seconds she waited for him to say something, hell to move. Then he did.
The arm that was behind Akira slipped to rest on her shoulders, his hand closed around her shoulder and he pulled her as close as she could get to before he chuckled reverberating malevolent laugh.
"You're going to make it up to me." He said and ominously but playfully glared her down.
Nervous. That look made her nervous, what did he mean? Akira gulped and with a panicky smile nodded her head.
After that he had taken her home, and at the entrance to the apartment building just as she had turned around to say goodnight, he caught her by the neck gently, just like he had at the airport and pulled her in for a quick goodnight kiss.
"Now get your butt home and squirm in worry." He said before he got back into the cab. Akira glared at him.
"Yeah well you get your butt home…safely…and…goodnight…" she said.
"Goodnight Akira." Then he closed the car door and he was gone. Akira's brain was fuzzy as she made it to her apartment.
"Squirm huh?" she said as she fell onto her bed.
"You know that's just what I'll do you jerk." She said with a slight smile.
Well, ahem. There you go.