MBP: I know, it's been a while. But this chapter hated me! I swear, why did I think I liked writing Mitsuru? He's being a pain in my…
MBP: Sorry. Anyways, so I finally finished after writing for hours. Well, hours each time I tried. I think I've spent over five hours on this chapter because it hates me.
Kio: But you like Mitsuru…
MBP: I will try remembering that before I try writing him again. Anyways, please enjoy!
Megumi was frozen in the restaurant, eye twitching in irritation. Alisa hadn't noticed her yet, which gave Megumi plenty of time to examine their companions at the table.
Alisa's date, Makoto, was unsurprisingly normal. Her dates generally had the same things in common; they all had brown hair and eyes, they all dressed in designer suits, and they all bored her by the end of the first week of their relationship. Makoto, for all that he stared at Alisa like she was a goddess come to earth, was going to be disappointed very quickly.
However, that wasn't Megumi's problem… her problem was that Mitsuru, her irritating show host from that morning, was sitting next to an empty chair at the table.
Unfortunately, before Megumi could do the smart thing, and run away, Alisa noticed her and waved.
"Megumi! Yoo-hoo, Megumi, over here!" Alisa looked pleased with herself, in a low-cut black dress and heels. Megumi felt like a child again, even though her red dress was just as revealing in some ways.
Megumi walked over to the group, forcing a small smile on her face. She nodded to Mitsuru, who only smirked as if he planned the whole thing.
Megumi diverted her attention before getting drawn into a conversation about food by her best friend. Her attention was stolen once more by a passing waiter, who left the smell of chocolate cake behind in the air. Not noticing that she was being watched closely, she stared after the waiter childishly, keeping her eyes on the cake until it was placed on someone's table.
"Is that waiter that attractive that you can't look at me Megumi-chan?" Megumi's eye twitched again, and she glared as he laughed. "I thought I was too charming and attractive to resist."
Alisa laughed at that, clinging to her date's arm. "You are at that; and so is Makoto. I wouldn't be out tonight if he hadn't convinced me."
Discreetly, so that Alisa and Makoto wouldn't notice, Megumi faked a gag and covered it with a laugh. On her left, Mitsuru did the same thing.
"May I take your order?" The waitress showed up, sounding bored until she noticed Mitsuru at the table. She stood up straighter instantly and shoved her hair back out of her face. "My name's Asami; I'll help you with anything you need!"
Alisa scanned the fake blond over with critical eyes. Her makeup had been plastered on, likely in the break room in the back, and her uniform was wrinkled and dirty. Megumi's got nothing to worry about. That satisfied her, so she placed her order, and Makoto's as well, since he was still staring at Alisa like she was perfection.
"I'll have a…" Megumi paused as another chocolate cake passed by the table. "I'll have the crab cocktail please."
"Of course… and what would you like?" Asami was trying too hard to flirt, but Mitsuru either didn't notice or care.
"I'll have a clam linguine in white wine sauce. Oh, and Asami?"
She leaned forward noticeably. "Yes?"
"Can I have a chocolate cake as well?" Megumi's head snapped to the boy as he shrugged. "After the food's been delivered, of course."
"Of course; I'd love to get you that," Asami wrote everything down and had to go to another table, but not without another backwards glance and wink to Mitsuru.
Alisa giggled quietly. "That wasn't obvious… at all."
"What can I say? The women love me." Megumi rolled her eyes, making sure that he saw it. "Well, most do."
Megumi rolled her shoulders back, sending Alisa a pained look that her friend didn't even notice. In fact, Alisa was staring out the window and suddenly taking an interest in the wine menu, despite the fact Alisa never drank. Turning slightly, Megumi noticed Aoi outside the restaurant, talking to someone she didn't know.
Quickly, Megumi stood up, muttering about the restroom, tugging Alisa with her. Alisa kept the menu up to her face, trying to hide discreetly until they were in the bathrooms. "Why is he here?" Alisa panicked once out of sight. "He's supposed to be working, not following me around and standing outside when I'm on a date! I mean really! I'm 23, not 13! Why is he still trying to smother me?"
Megumi patted her friend on the shoulder, biting her lip. Alisa's feelings for Aoi were complicated; on the one hand, the smothering annoyed her to the point of destroying random objects, but on the other hand, he was the one man she couldn't get out of her head.
Alisa sighed, finishing her rant and getting herself under control. "Well, I'm not letting him ruin it. Makoto's actually… interesting, you know? And while he's fawning over me right now, sometimes he's just… when he really gets into something, he gets this look in his eyes. One he's never sent me, and I want him to!"
Ah, so that was different. Maybe this kind of talk was why Aoi wasn't in the office like he normally was. Megumi smiled, happy that Alisa was relaxing while talking about an abstract art exhibit Makoto had taken her to. If she hadn't known Alisa hated anything abstract, she'd have sworn Alisa was the one obsessed with it.
"So… what do you think of Mitsuru?" Megumi's smile disappeared quickly.
"He reminds me of Yahiro," Megumi muttered, sighing slightly. Alisa murmured sympathetically and this time, she patted Megumi's shoulder.
"I know he kinda acts like him," Alisa replied, hand on her friend's shoulder. "Right down to that attitude that doesn't let someone he worries about know he's nervous. You weren't here, so you didn't see it."
Megumi frowned thoughtfully. "See what?"
Alisa's eyes lit up in glee. "Well, we were all a little early; this place likes to give away reserved tables if they're not there on the dot. So he spent that time grilling me about you."
Alisa rolled her eyes. "About everything! What you liked, things you didn't go through in your interview, if I thought you would hate him, stuff like that. Honestly, it was like high school. Cute, but a little juvenile."
She paused for a moment. "Kind of reminds me of Mitsuru. Except he's not exactly cute. He's a god who came to earth."
Megumi couldn't fight the laugh, shaking her head slightly. "You have a date," she reminded her friend with raised eyebrows.
"I still have eyes," Alisa retorted, looping her arm through Megumi's. "And you didn't see his face when you walked in, did you? He was totally blown away."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Megumi said honestly.
"You were late," Alisa said, realizing she hadn't scolded Megumi about it. "Remind me to bug you about that later."
"I got caught by fans outside!" Megumi protested. Alisa thought and decided that was alright if that was the reason.
"Well, he started fidgeting, the way you do when you think someone's not going to show up," Alisa grinned devilishly. "He totally likes you."
Megumi squirmed, reaching for the bathroom door. "He probably just doesn't like feeling someone won't fall over him. And I won't."
"We'll see about that. There is no need to keep obsessing over Yahiro. You could do so much better," Alisa wasn't too fond of Yahiro, especially the way that he kept hurting Megumi. In Alisa's opinion, the best part of Megumi's relationship with Yahiro was when she stopped trying so hard.
Megumi paused, thinking of every time she'd tried to get Yahiro to love her, only to be shot down. Even she'd thought she was an idiot. Maybe everyone had.
But things were different now. Yahiro didn't even try to talk to her, and she wasn't going to be the first to reach out this time. She gave up not long after graduation, and five years was a long time. She was a successful singer, an idol that girls dreamed of becoming.
"You're right," Megumi replied quietly. "But he was my first love. You never quite get over that."
Alisa thought about that and nodded. Her crush on Ryuu might have faded very quickly, but he was the first man she'd thought she was in love with. Like it did with every secretly, and not so secretly, romantic girl, it meant something.
"Well, let's go get ourselves some food and enjoy our dates!" Alisa cheered up, tugging on her friend's arm. "If it makes you feel better, you can shoot Mitsuru down if you don't like him."
"That would be mean!" Megumi protested, smiling at a passing waiter. He tripped as he passed them, turning to keep an eye on her as they went back to their table.
"Oh, like smiling at waiters and making them fall over their feet for the pretty woman isn't?" Alisa retorted.
"What waiter?" Mitsuru looked up as they returned.
Megumi rolled her eyes, glancing at Alisa as she and Makoto returned to some not-so subtle flirting. Their food arrived quickly, and Asami continued to try flirting with Mitsuru, but he was having none of it. He sent her on her way with a polite smile, talking easily to the others.
"So Megumi-chan, how's the crab cocktail?" Mitsuru eyed it closely, noticing it was almost gone. "If how fast you ate is any clue, it's delicious."
"It is." Megumi looked at his linguine, biting her lip to stop herself from asking if she could try it. It looked amazing. It looked like something she could eat for hours and never stop, despite the fact that carbs were bad. Carbs would be worth it.
"Wanna trade?" Mitsuru offered with a smile. "A bite of mine for a bite of yours?"
Megumi pushed her food forward without hesitation, raising her eyebrows expectantly. After a moment, Mitsuru's smile grew into a grin and he pushed his forward as well. Megumi took a bite of the linguine and had to force back a happy sigh. It tasted as good as it looked.
Mitsuru laughed, and neither of them noticed the other two at the table staring. Mitsuru rarely laughed; chuckled if something was overly amusing or tormented someone, but laughing? Laughing was rare.
Alisa nudged Makoto, indicating that they should leave the two alone. He agreed, though that might have been because she quietly whispered that they could be alone as well.
"Well, I have work tomorrow," Makoto stood, waving his hand for the bill. "I'll take Alisa home."
Megumi stared at her friend, who was obviously plotting something and trying not to show it. "I should get home too."
Mitsuru stood when she did. "Is that cake I ordered going to waste then? I'm not so big of a chocolate fan that I can eat the pieces they give out."
Megumi hesitated just long enough for Alisa to agree to stay for her. "Megumi loves chocolate cake! She'd be glad to stay!"
With a glare to her best friend, Megumi sat back down. She missed the slight smile on Mitsuru's face as she did so, glancing out the window to see Aoi was still there. "Be careful," she warned Alisa quietly.
Alisa shrugged. If she decided to go out with Makoto, it was her decision. She was 23 now, and earlier panic aside, Aoi wasn't in any position to stop her. "Tell me how the cake is."
Mitsuru sat across from her as they waited for the cake, both of them silent for an awkward moment. "I'm sorry."
The apology surprised Megumi enough to jolt in her chair. "W-what?"
"I'm sorry. For earlier." He was mumbling, making it slightly hard to hear. "You're not an idiot."
Megumi blinked. He was apologizing for calling her an idiot? "Um… no big deal?"
He looked up at her, eyebrows raised skeptically. Megumi shrugged her shoulders as casually as she could. "I'm a little used to it," she admitted.
"Which is almost worse," Mitsuru added on, smiling wryly. "What? It's kind of wrong when someone actually is used to being insulted."
Megumi shrugged again. "It was better than being ignored."
Mitsuru looked down at his plate. "You really loved him?"
Megumi paused, and then nodded. "Yeah, but… he hasn't even tried to talk to me in five years, and after a while… why keep trying?"
The man looked up, shaking his head. "Well, he's an idiot. I can at least keep thinking that. But I think you were smart to move on. After all, the one you should be with could be anywhere."
Megumi laughed. "You sound like Alisa. She said the same thing when I was moving on."
"She's smart. Just not smart enough to realize her former caretaker is in love with her." Megumi laughed again at how easily he said it.
"She'll deny it even if she knows. He treats her like a kid all the time," Megumi cheered up as a giant piece of cake was delivered to their table by a suddenly unhappy Asami. From the look of things, Alisa had said something to the girl before leaving. "Thank you."
Asami nodded, moving away silently, glancing over her shoulder at Mitsuru before heading back to the kitchen. Mitsuru merely watched as Megumi picked up her fork and took a bite of the cake.
Megumi really did sigh happily as she tasted the best chocolate cake she'd ever had. Half the cake was gone before she realized that Mitsuru hadn't touched it. "Aren't you going to eat?"
Mitsuru was smiling, not even touching his fork. "I was afraid you'd stab me with your fork if I tried. Is it that good?"
The indignant glare she was trying to hold onto decided to fade away as he was obviously joking. "It is. Are you going to try it?"
"I don't like chocolate," Mitsuru returned, shrugging as he picked up his fork. "But what the hell. Why not?"
He took his bite, jokingly pulling the plate closer to him. Unwillingly, Megumi laughed, pulling it back to the middle. "Share!"
"You ate half of it!" He protested, taking another bite.
"You don't like chocolate," Megumi returned, taking a bite of her own. They kept talking, taking bites between sentences until the rest of the cake was gone. For a moment, Megumi hesitated to stand up.
Once Mitsuru apologized, she'd just… relaxed. Megumi didn't think she'd been this comfortable around boys, except for Ryuu and Jun. For once, it felt… nice. Even though there wasn't anything to stay around for, Megumi didn't want to leave.
"I should probably go," Megumi said quietly, standing slowly.
Mitsuru stood with her, looking as if he was trying to find something to say. He glanced over his shoulder and lit up. "How about a dance before you go?"
She looked at him, tilting her head to the side in confusion. Mitsuru gestured with his hand to the dancing couples in the restaurant, largely ignored by the rest of the patrons. "They play live music so people can dance together," he explained, offering his hand. "So how about a dance?"
Megumi hesitated, and then took his hand with a smile. "One dance."
After all, what could it hurt, if Megumi did have one dance before returning to a lonely apartment?
Five dances later, the pair exited the restaurant, Megumi holding Mitsuru's arm gently. "Thank you," she said with a grin. "The cake was delicious."
Mitsuru hadn't been lying when he said he didn't like chocolate, but watching her face light up when he actually started eating the cake he'd bought her was worth it. "Anytime."
She unhooked her arm from his easily, stepping away. "Well, my ride's this way. Good night."
"Wait!" She was less than ten steps away when Mitsuru caught up to her. At her confused look, he explained, "I was raised right. I don't let a woman walk alone at night, no matter how far it is."
"Ah, is a gentleman hiding in you?" Megumi teased, earning herself a raised eyebrow and a slight blush on the man's face. She laughed as she pointed it out, taking his arm again.
"I've never hid it," He muttered, shaking his head as she continued to laugh. "It's not funny. Why are you laughing?"
"You're still blushing!" Megumi giggled, changing the subject to his relief. "So, how do you know Makoto? Or is it Alisa?"
"It's Makoto. Frankly, your friend kind of scares me; do you know how protective she is of you?" Mitsuru pretended to shudder. "But actually, it's through a friend of mine from school. Makoto and I don't know each other very well."
"And yet you called him to get me here tonight?" Megumi was officially confused.
"Ah… yes?" Mitsuru shrugged, confused about it himself. "You're different. Interesting different, not bad different. I guess I just wanted to know you better, and I figured you wouldn't talk to me after what I said after the show."
"I wasn't going to," she admitted with a wry smile.
"I'm normally right about that stuff. I was prepared to grovel once the others were gone," Mitsuru added on, laughing when she raised her eyebrows at him. "The fact that you forgave me after I just apologized is very humbling."
"If you apologize, you realized you did something wrong, so why stay angry?" Megumi shrugged with an embarrassed smile. She stopped walking, surprising the man at her side. She pointed to another man who was leaning against a car. "That's my driver."
"Ah." He was a little disappointed it was time for her to go already. He was enjoying her company for once. As she walked away, he called out. "Hey Megumi-chan?"
She turned with a smile. "You can just call me Megumi."
"Megumi," Mitsuru tried it and decided he liked dropping the honorifics. "Maybe we can do this another time?"
For a moment, she had to think. She'd like that; it had been a while since she hadn't thought about Yahiro on these dates Alisa liked to try setting her up on. Mitsuru, despite her first impression that he was a jerk, was actually kind of a nice guy.
She was going to ignore the fact that Yahiro was the same way and focus on how Mitsuru was more honest and apologized for being a jerk.
Megumi nodded, smiling at the man cheerfully. "I'd like that."
The office was the only one lit at the late hour, the man working inside being the only one to continue working when all normal people were fast asleep. He preferred it later, when no one tried to talk to him.
Finishing the paperwork, he sighed, stretching out to relieve tense muscles. In just five years, he'd made this company the second biggest in Japan. The fact that it was only second best was fixed by remembering that the man who had the biggest company was a freaking monster, not to mention, might be his only friend now.
That didn't matter much to him; he'd chosen to disappear from his school friend's lives after graduation. He needed to focus his attention on his company, needed to feel like he was good enough for himself. Plus, they'd forced their company on him during school; he'd never tried to spend time with them in the first place.
Somehow, rationalizing it didn't make seeing how one particular girl had been affected any better.
Yahiro growled while trying unsuccessfully, as he usually did, to forget Megumi Yamamoto. It was definitely hard to forget she existed; after all, she was famous now. It was as if he couldn't go outside without seeing her picture or hearing her name on someone else's lips.
It probably didn't help that he bought all her music, watched every show religiously, and had made following her career into his second job.
Even so, it wasn't because he cared for her. It was because she was a very promising young artist, who was finally reaching out to be in the public eye more than just in concert. It was because her singing had always comforted him, and with all his stress, that was a good thing.
His brain had a little part that liked to taunt him and tell him he was lying to himself. Yahiro liked to imagine that part of his brain was being dipped in acid.
And yet… five years had changed her. And not just physically, because Yahiro hadn't noticed those changes because he'd always kept an eye on her. It had taken looking back in an old scrapbook Sakura had forced on him during third year to realize she had grown. No, she'd just grown up in general.
The Megumi he'd known wouldn't have flirted with anyone; she wouldn't know how to! She would tell the world about an unrequited crush though, so he wasn't completely disappointed. She hadn't changed completely.
And she hadn't forgotten him. The pleasure he felt at that thought was denied whole-heartedly. She'd be better off forgetting him. Megumi deserved better, she always had. She should forget him, find someone she could date and get close to for real.
Yahiro would completely forget thinking that when he saw the paper the next morning.
MBP: I thought Yahiro should make an appearance. Seriously, he didn't want to. He fought the entire time.
Rini: I thought he'd show up later.
MBP: No. He needed a reason to show up.
MBP: Okay, so he just needed an appearance. His grand reappearance in Megumi's life is in progress, but he needed to be present in the story first. Anyways, hope you enjoyed. Please review, tell me what you think! Thanks!