Disclaimer: Itazura na Kiss will never be mine. Let's agree to that, shall we?
Setting: College setting. I believe it's the beginning of episode 11 of where he is studying to enter the medical field—that is where my story takes place.
Warning: Light cursing. Light sexual suggestions. Oh, above all, I will not use –chan or –kun. I rather not mix two languages.
Falling into the Sun
Kotoko played with the edges of her dairy, a gift given to her when she was young by her father. The pink cover was decorated with a few heart stickers with a thread of white lace glued at each corner. It screamed a blare of femininity, especially from a man's perspective.
The drapes were spread apart, letting the sun enter and brighten the room. She leaned back from the table and took in each detail, each belonging that was not her own, sitting quietly in their perspective places. The queen-size bed rested at a corner, near the windowsill, that carried different colors of throw pillows. There was a dresser nearby, big enough to fit all her undergarments and other personal things.
She then noticed the attaching mirror, secured on top of her chestnut dresser. Near the bed, a pink rug lay, fuzzy and warm to her feet when winter came. And where she sat, an oval table was set in the middle, a couch lay behind her.
None of this belonged to her. Not one thing. It made her realize how much of a stranger she was to this house. She tore away from those thoughts, not wanting to break another tear. Enough tears were shed since this morning.
She moved her eyes toward her diary. It laid all her secrets, each memory describing her youth up 'til now. She idly flipped it opened, and read each passage, each word that began to describe her love to one man. Her eyes narrowed at the thought, the space between her brows wrinkled.
The love she had for Irie began to rattle with concern. She never doubted her love before, but now… Now it was different. All those times she listened to his insults began to settle in her mind, making her optimistic personality shaken with pessimism.
If only she hadn't ripped apart the important document of Mr. Irie's, she wouldn't have been sitting on the ground, reflecting her personality. But ever since she found the paper he sought all yesterday, she felt overwhelmed with guilt when Irie continually put her to shame. It didn't matter to him if she found it; no, what matter to him was to put her on blast for being stupid.
These things weren't meant to happen to her. She was supposed to be living a happy life, while trying to gain Irie's love. Instead, she was facing the ultimate humiliation of being subjected of living in misery, including the fact that he messed with her feelings as if it meant nothing to him. And it did mean nothing to him. While she remembered her first kiss with him as one of her fondest memories, he trashed it as a disease.
Those words he told her yesterday, "You always come out as a disappointment,"made her want to hide her face and save whatever pride she had left in the closet. She was accustomed to his negativity of her. It always made her think that beyond the insult he loved her, dearly. How foolish she was.
An immediate change was in order. This character of hers—always crying, being taken advantage, and constantly being degraded—needed to come to an end. It had to come to an end.
She shut her dairy to a close with her mind set on changing her behavior. Then, she realized she was being drastic with her decision. Although, she managed to save Mr. Irie's documentation by taping it together, she began to see how strenuous her attempts were to alleviate a man's sorrow. That should be proof enough that there was nothing wrong with her personality.
Irie was simply mad at her because she had made a small mistake; a mistake that did not drag to a problematic concern for the company. With lady luck on her side, she saved the company from falling into a mess, and cheered up an old man's sorrow. There was nothing wrong with her. In the future, she would have to be more careful to examine what she picked off the ground, that's all.
And his statement of yesterday of being a disappointment meant nothing. It's perfectly natural for Irie to react the way he did. She would've acted the same if her father lost a documentation needed for whatever purposes that might save his restaurant. She would've acted the same way if Irie had shredded it apart. Although, it was hard to imagine him ever making a mistake that she had a hard time believing her imaginary.
It didn't matter. The issue was solved. No need to dwell on the past.
She stood up from her spot and headed toward the empty bathroom, which she shared with the two boys. As she brushed her teeth, she noticed her appearance. Her red-hair was tied in two buns, a few tendrils slipped and dangled in a frizz. She then noticed her pink two-piece pajamas, an ensemble of a long-sleeve shirt and pants. She contemplated whether a college woman like herself should be wearing this. Matsumoto Yuuko must surely be wearing a sophisticated nightgown to enrich her beauty. Surely, Naoki would prefer her in bed.
She didn't know why she thought of Matsumoto Yuuko. Perhaps, it was the fact that Naoki preferred her. It made her quite jealous how simple a beautiful woman like Yuuko can easily gain the cold Irie Naoki's attention. She always struggled; he will never give her the time of day, unlike Matsumoto.
Kotoko pushed the thought aside and began to drift her mind to other things. One of those things led to an image of Irie half-dressed, lying comfortably on his side, curling a finger seductively for her to join him on the untidy bed. The black comforter that he possessed would've been thrown carelessly to a side. The white sheets would appear messy and bundled to the right corner of the bed. As for Naoki, he would only be wearing a pair of black pants left unbuttoned for her to take off.
The erotic daydream made her drool when he slipped a hand down his chest and toward his unbuttoned pants. She shook her head away from her fantasy and focused on the present. She really needed to stop listening to her friends about what they learned from listening to others about sexual relationships.
Besides, Irie wouldn't want her. He already rejected her once, and she would be horrified if she dare made any sexual advances to gain his attention. Many girls her age were sexually active. It was a common thing to occur in college. Although, Kotoko can never see herself in a sexual relationship; she prefer marriage first, sex after. It's what her father taught her, and it's what she would imagine her happy ending to be, sharing her first time with the man she loved.
And for a long time she thought Irie Naoki would be the man honored to be her husband. But it was a silly dream that she conjured up when she was a teenager. She realized that Irie was never her prince charming.
Her father always told her that, out there in the world, there was someone for her. Even if Irie was not the man for her, there was that hope that someone out there was desperately searching for her. She rubbed the tears from her cheeks and took in a deep breath, to soothe away the despair.
She never understood why everything affected her. It's not a big deal that Irie was not meant for her. It wasn't the end of the world. Still a small part of her wished that he gave back the sentiment; after all, they kissed. Didn't that account for something?
In the end, it didn't. He still treated her wrong. And she still hoped that he felt something for her. Besides, he hardly even knew her. Likewise, it could be said about her.
She left the bathroom and headed into her room to dress. Looking at each garment, she harshly pushed one aside followed by another and another. None these seemed appropriate for her to wear. Matsumoto clearly had bettering clothing than she. She needed to update her closet to look more her age.
Then she frowned. Never before did the sight of her clothes bother her. She could care less what others thought of her clothing ware. The whole thing with Matsumoto being the perfect woman for any man began to get to her. She needed to stop thinking about her and concentrate on getting dressed.
Still she found nothing satisfying to wear that she threw some clothes to the ground in frustration. Everything about today was beginning to upset her. And it all started the moment she began to remember what Irie had told her.
"You always come out as a disappointment," chanted in her head, consuming her whole and making her loathe the image of herself. She forced her mind from thinking about the event and grabbed a white top and a pair of pants. She undid her hair, combed it gently, and hurried down the stairs to the sweet invitation of food greeting her in the air.
Unfortunately, she stopped descending and noticed Irie mindlessly sipping his cup of tea, eyes drawn to today's newspaper. By his side, his little brother, Yuuki, watched her from the corner of his eye, half-raising the spoon from the bowl. Slowly, he brought the spoon to his mouth and resumed eating, without bothering to greet her.
She took the empty seat across from Naoki. There was already a plate of food set for her. Pancakes with strawberries on top coated with maple syrup and a sprinkle of blueberries scattered around made her mouth water at the delicious sight. Mrs. Irie spoiled her rotten, and it was no fact that she'd brightened Kotoko's day by serving her favorite sweet.
She cut a piece with a knife and fork and placed it in her mouth. It made her mouth tingle at the taste of pure delight. She hummed approvingly and closed her eyes in bliss. It was then when she opened her eyes that she noticed the stares she received from the two brothers. She swallowed her food in a struggle, not liking the way they stared at her.
Yuuki twitched his nose in disgust and resumed eating his bowl of cereal. Irie blinked his eyes once and looked away, muttering under his breath, "Repulsive."
Never before had she felt uncomfortable of herself in front of them. She cut another piece slowly and took another bite. The food no longer satisfied her.
She continued to finish it and dabbed her face clean with a napkin. Drinking her orange juice, she felt Irie watching her when she placed her cup back down. She couldn't help but break into a smile. Irie never stared at her before. She felt giddy, knowing that he watched her with those impassive gray eyes. Then she thought of yesterday and pondered if he was still angry about his father's documentation.
Surely, he had forgiven her.
"Irie, what are you planning to do today?"
Today was Saturday, a day to relax and have fun. Well, for her at least. He, on the other hand, looked rather peeved by her question and drummed his fingers on the table with a hand supporting his chin. He watched her for a moment longer and looked away. The newspaper he was engrossed in a few minutes ago was folded neatly by his side.
"If I told you, you would make it your mission to bug me."
She rubbed the back of her head, chuckling nervously.
"That's not true."
At the same time, both brothers looked at her with an expression that clearly read, "Yeah, sure right." She slouched in her seat at the silent accusation. It seemed nothing was going her way. Determined to fix the day, she sat straight up and gave him an optional suggestion.
"Well, later when you're not busy, we could hang out." He stared at her in silence. "It'll be fun," she pushed a little.
He rolled his eyes. "Sure it will. It will only end up in a disaster."
"I promise I won't do anything stupid." She sounded pathetic begging him to hang out with her.
"No thanks. I rather not let you ruin my day."
"But—" she continued to persist.
He firmly stated, "No. I don't want to hang out with you."
She chapped her lips and nodded her head. Her emotions weren't going to get the better of her. Crying in front of him was unacceptable. He will only ridicule her more than necessary.
She pulled herself together and said, "Okay. It's just a suggestion."
Irie made a face of disgust. "Don't suggest it again."
He stared at her for a few seconds, watching her expression calmly take in his unbreakable wall. A soft smile touched her lip. He made a noise with his throat that sounded like humph. Pushing his seat back, he stood and left toward the stairs. Her eye caught the sight of Yuuki watching her intently.
She picked up her glass of orange juice and sipped. Yuuki watched her for a moment, narrowing his eyes. He then stuck out his tongue as a farewell to her. Following after his brother, Kotoko slumped in her seat and circled her index-finger around her glass cup.
She chuckled for a moment.
This day sucked.
"Kinnosuke, what do you see in me?"
After the rather disappointing exchange between Naoki and her, she simply had nowhere else to go but to her father's restaurant. Kinnosuke was rather thrilled to see her as he pulled out a seat for her and prepared her a special meal made out of his own hands. He soon then found it disappointing that she was rather refusing to eat.
He pushed her to eat it which in turn she stated back that she ate breakfast before she came. His shoulders sagged, despair claimed his face. He was prepared to throw away the meal when she stopped him by saying that she would save it for later. At those words, happiness was brought to his expression; although, it didn't manage to reach his eyes.
He still hoped that she would taste his food at the very moment.
When she questioned him for his opinion, he began to lean over to her with adoration, patting her head softly. Kotoko grimaced and pushed his hand away. His overly affection drove her mad sometimes. No wonder Irie refused to talk to her when she acted in the similar fashion as Kinnosuke. It made her want to puke at her disgusting behavior.
Oh, goodness, Irie's baritone voice began to fill her head with words of discouragement: "Idiot," "Stupid," and "Failure," were shooting down her barely sustainable cheeriness. The moment she heard his voice, her happiness evaporated as a dark cloud loomed over her head instead.
After this, she promised herself that she wouldn't bother Irie at all. Irie was studying for his entrance exams for the medical field. She couldn't help but be in awe of his efforts of greatness. If it wasn't for her, he would've never taken interest in being a doctor—well, that's what she hoped to be true.
"Kotoko?" a voice called her name.
She blinked her eyes and looked at Kinnosuke. She had easily forgotten that she was waiting for his response to her answer. Although, she expected him to repeat the same, old pointless reasons of why he loved her—that she was perfect, determined, lovely, and, overall, a beautiful creature that graced the earth. The overused expression of his face lighting up in admiration and love was directed to her once more.
"I see my lovely Kotoko who is too good for anyone with a bad heart to have," he answered after she regained her composure. Though she knew that his emphasize around, "anyone with a bad heart" pertained to Naoki. She faintly smiled at the thought of her friend trying to claim her heart. His success of winning her affection was slim, but he continued with all his might for her to notice him. It's strange. She felt rather sick seeing him that way when his actions easily reflected her own.
"Kotoko?" He appeared worried.
With a smile, she pushed away his doubts of concern, and offered a different approach to her question, "What do you see lovely about me?"
He tapped his chin with an arm resting across his chest, a metal spoon still grasped in his hand. His pensive expression brought a sad smile to her face. Kotoko knew the answer would not be satisfying to hear.
"That you're determined, smart, and caring. You're also eager to get a career—even though, I already told you that I can support you if you consider my love." There was a note of desperation in his voice, one that Kotoko ignored for the sake of his feelings.
"Those are attributes." Kotoko juggled in her head another approach to her question. She desperately wanted to hear his answer now. "I mean, why do you like me? Do you know me enough to say that you deeply love me or do you say you love me because I'm pretty and caring?"
He looked at her strange, not fully understanding her question. With an eyebrow raised, and both hands placed in front of him, he subjected himself to ask, "Kotoko, are you feeling well?"
The redhead should've known that the answer she sought would never be addressed. She sighed and slump her shoulders in defeat, muttering that everything was fine. He didn't believe her for a second, but couldn't further communicate with her when her father shouted at him to get back to work. Kinnosuke instantly served a bowl of food to a customer as his eyes glanced every so often to the girl he loved.
Kotoko, meanwhile, began to eat her meal, slightly cringing that it tasted cold. She laid the chopsticks to rest, and stared at her beverage. The answer she sought for Kinnosuke left her dissatisfied that she wondered why. In all truth, however, she just wanted an excuse to continue falsely believing that she knew Irie inside and out, and questioned Kinnosuke to see if he knew her completely well in return.
It was like a test, sort of. How much does the other know of their love one—that was the question to her test. It seemed Kinnosuke knew nothing about her, aside from her caring nature. And as she started thinking about how much she knew Irie, she began to realize that she only knew his personality as well. His goals, his passion, his view on the world… She knew nothing about.
Asking for a box to take her meal home—if she could call it that—she left the restaurant in disappointment with a multiple sighs leaving her lips at the cofound hatred she had at herself.
Today was really not her day.
Noriko Irie always knew how to brighten Kotoko's day. She made Kotoko feel special, constantly reassuring her that Naoki would fall in love with her when he fully opened his eyes. After all, she was the perfect girl for her intelligent son. Forget that she wasn't book smart, didn't know how to cook, let alone do anything right, what counted was her personality. But can she really say that personality can win a man's heart?
She cringed when she came to accept that Mrs. Irie was indeed making the situation between her and Naoki worse. Kotoko began to have second thoughts of entering the kitchen, but her action was far too late. Mrs. Irie noticed her entrance and pulled her by the hand to teach her how to cook a fourth time. When will her possible future-mother-in-law come to understand that she and cooking did not blend well together?
"This time, Kotoko, I am certain that you will prepare a wonderfully made meal for my son."
She clapped her hands together in glee, eager for Kotoko to get started. Aihara hesitated and glanced between the unprepared fish to the pan. In the end, she lifted her hand and grabbed a knife—well, that is what she thought she should be grabbing—and hearing no objection from Mrs. Irie, she began to slice the fish.
Mrs. Irie prepared the white rice, meanwhile.
Kotoko attentively looked to Noriko's direction before she spoke, "Mrs. Irie…"
"Please call me Mama," Mrs. Irie interceded, stirring the rice with one hand and pouring water with the other.
"Mama," Kotoko began again, "what makes you say that I will be a good wife for your son?"
A smile appeared on her face. She placed the lid on top of the pot, and directly looked at her.
"A mother knows what's best for her son," she answered. Kotoko frowned. That wasn't the answer she was looking for.
"What if Naoki doesn't love me, but another? Would I still be considered the best?"
She instantly regretted mentioning her son possibly not loving her when his mother went into hysterics, lamenting over the fact that she failed as a mother. Kotoko needed to stop her from wailing when the rice began to overcook. She shut off the fire, and removed the pot from the stove. It took a few minutes to calm her down, and insisted that it was a rhetorical question.
Mrs. Irie grinned and puffed Kotoko's cheeks. "You are the best that Naoki will ever have." She resumed aiding her with the fish, making sure that Kotoko impressed her son with her ability to cook. However, at the moment, Kotoko didn't care if her meal came out decent.
For the first time ever, she felt angry at Mrs. Irie for not properly answering her questions.
It was seven at night when dinner was ready. She had the responsibility to retrieve Noriko's eldest son, a demand to have them bond at every single chance. She doubted that Naoki would be delighted to see her when he constantly regarded her as a pest. Kotoko jogged up the steps and approached his bedroom door, taking a breath of what she anticipated inside. She grabbed the door-leveler and knocked before she pulled it down and entered.
He did not acknowledge her presence and continued to busy himself with his studies. She looked around the room. Everything was spotless. It was nothing like her messy room. Two beds were aligned against the wall, each in opposite direction. There was a desk beside her, no doubt Yuuki's area. Next to the foot of a bed, a bookshelf covered with many books stood near the corner of the wall and the window. And right next to that, Irie sat on his desk, reading.
"Irie, dinner is ready," she informed.
He flipped another page, ignoring her like always. She let her eyes flick to right of her. Irie's bed was kept clean. His dresser was stacked next to it. If she hadn't moved in, Yuuki would've a more spacious room than how it looks now. As she looked around, it looked crowded with many things.
"I will be down shortly," he said after seconds past. He moved his elbow to lie on top of his desk, resting his chin on the palm of his hand.
Kotoko was about to leave the room when he spoke, "Where did you go today?"
She furrowed her brows. It wasn't like him to instigate about her whereabouts.
"I went to my father's restaurant."
He skimmed through the page and flipped to another. "You should go there more often," he stated bluntly. "I get things done without you pestering me."
Humor went detected in his tone of voice. He was laughing at her in his own insulting way. She restrained the urge to smack him behind the back of the head. It was unlike her to display violent behavior. She wouldn't start now.
Then realization hit her. She was in his room, able to discover more about his passions in life. It was the perfect opportunity, not only for her, but for him to know more about her as well. She decided she would test him first of how much he knew about her.
She turned to Irie, hesitating to take the first step. He kept studying the medical book he had laid in front of him. He was hardly paying attention to her. That wouldn't do. She needed his attention. Slowly, she began her approach toward his desk and stood to a side, back given toward the bookshelf behind.
He took a glance at her. "What is it?"
She twiddled with her hands and nervously glanced to his stern expression. The angular of his jaw was relaxed to his mood. She basked in the radiance of his charm and intelligence.
Determined, she asked, "Irie, what's my favorite color?"
His face was apprehended by confusion.
"Why should I care about a pointless matter?"
Her heart tore a little.
"Well, I am just curious to know if you knew."
A frown took his lips.
"I don't know your favorite color."
She laughed nervously with her arm stretched behind her. It was becoming her signature mark of when she became nervous.
Her laughter settled down. She honestly admitted to him, "I don't know yours either."
A bucket of disappointment fell on top of her head.
Naoki was rather silent, as he flexed a finger and turned the next page, his eyes glued to every word that he could absorb. She lowered her hand and took one step closer to his desk.
"Irie, what's my favorite band?" she asked another question, easier than the last.
The creasing between his brows never ceased.
"I don't know."
Her heart tore a little bit more. Not even an easy question like that was answered. Another step was taken. His slouched form and his mahogany desk were within reach.
"Irie…" She swore she could see a vein throb on his forehead. "…what do I hate the most?"
Again, he responded, a bit forcibly this time, "I don't know."
Her heart tore into two. A last step was taken. Her hand slid on the desk, the feel of the smooth texture greeted her sweaty palm with acceptance to be her support. She felt faint.
She never finished what she was about to say when he slammed his book shut and glared at her.
"I don't know your personal likes or dislikes." He stood up from his chair and stalked out of the room. Kotoko follow behind slowly, her head hung low, her shoulders sagged, and closed the door behind her.
Today was a nightmare.