Life was good. Everybody was happy. The salmon-haired female sat next to a rather overweight male with greenish hair and a towel held up to his face. Two young children were running around the yard happily, giggling. Aoi Takano… it had a nice ring to it, didn't it? Aoi had been crushing on the man that was, somewhat awkwardly, younger than her. She admired his way of life—he was so passionate about everything he did and made everything fun. Little Ayame, with flowing green hair that fell over her shoulders in small waves like her mother's, and her brother Shoji, also with green hair that fell gracelessly over his forehead. Ayame had inherited her mother's tentative nature, yet her passion for whatever she did.
Shoji was different from both of his parents; he was a real firecracker. The young boy tried anything and everything, but he got super upset when he failed at anything, unlike either of his parents. He did inherit the love of studying, however, and studied day and night. The 10-year-old boy knew two years' of knowledge above his grade level. His three-year-younger sister envied him, and it showed. However Ayame was happy with her life.
Turning her head to look at her husband, Aoi smiled, "Maybe you should go play football with Shoji."
In return, Reiji said, "Maybe you should go catch butterflies with Ayame."
Aoi chuckled lightly and kissed her husband on the cheek before getting to her feet and heading over to their young daughter and taking her by the hand, "Let's go catch some butterflies and show them to daddy, all right?" The young girl vigorously nodded her head, and Aoi shot a smile at Reiji over her shoulder before she was dragged off by the overzealous child. Though neither parent was growing any younger, both parents played daily with their children. On school days, in the afternoons when the kids came home, after they did their homework, and on weekends in the evenings. In summer, the family caught fireflies together. Boys on one team, girls on another. Whichever team caught the most fireflies by the end of thirty minutes won.
For the past few years, the girls had won every time. Now it was just beginning to be summer, and the family knew that fireflies would be out soon, so they spent more and more time outside in the evenings, waiting and watching. It was the life Aoi had always dreamed of. A life where she could be happy. She'd always thought it would be fun to be with Reiji, and she'd been right. Aoi still taught at Kisaragi High, but in their free time, before the kids were born, Reiji and Aoi took trips to exotic places over breaks, and Aoi had finally come to accept the fact that Reiji wasn't ever going to change his ideas about Od—so she dropped it. Nowadays, she actually became interested in the Odic forces around Kisaragi and listened intently to whatever he had to say. She let him conduct "school checkups" once every four months (no more, she still wasn't going to be that lenient about him bringing his Od contraptions to the school Quad).
There was no possible way life could get any better. Except…
Aoi bolted upright, instinctively turning her head to the clock on her bedside table. In neon green, the numbers "1:45 a.m." were splayed on the front.
Aoi rubbed her face. It had happened again, hadn't it? That wonderful, magical dream. The only dream she'd dreamt since… well… Sighing thickly, Aoi ran a hand through her hair. She'd learned not to cry over it a long time ago. Perhaps it wasn't even learning—it was just all her tears had dried up. Some nights, she still would cry. She'd wake up crying. Tears of happiness from the dream that quickly turned to tears of sorrow. She'd only ever yelled at him. Why couldn't she have been nicer to him? Why did he have to die, anyways? What kind of cruel person…would murder Mr. Takano?
Aoi Matsumura. That was her name. Teacher at Kisaragi High. That was her job.
She'd never be Aoi Takano. She'd never have Ayame Takano and Shoji Takano.
They were figments of her imagination.
And now, Reiji was only that, too.