Chapter Four
Break and Run

Gold and orange rays were shining brilliantly against the far wall when Mafuyu opened her eyes. She squinted at the glare. Was the sun setting? She felt like she had been sleeping for at least three hours. Or four? Whatever. She was never really good at gauging things like these anyway.

"Wow. You sleep like the dead, Mafuyu."

A voice broke the silence. Turning to her side, Mafuyu's rested expression quickly morphed into one of absolute mortification. Takaomi's large figure was hovering close to her futon, calmly observing her. A white towel hung loosely around his waist, his torso slightly damp. In one hand, he held a hanger with one of her old, baggy Hawaiian-print shirts from her delinquent days, one that seemed to fit more like a dress on her small frame, like many of the other shirts she always seemed to buy. His other hand shifted to hike up the towel.

Scrambling back ungracefully from her futon, Mafuyu let out a loud yelp of surprise as she backed into the wall, hitting her head against it in the process. Rubbing her throbbing skull, she growled. Her eyes raked over his form. Had he just finished taking his shower? Why was he naked? What an insatiable pervert! Forcing herself to stand straight, Mafuyu stared determinedly at the wall beyond Takaomi's head, pretending to meet his eye. "W-why are you—where the hell are your clothes?"

Adjusting his towel, Takaomi looked thoroughly unimpressed with her reaction. "They're soaked with sweat. What? You expected me to wear them?" When she didn't answer, he turned away. "Well, considering you're not the kind of respectable person who keeps soap in the bathroom," he said, shrugging his shoulders. Mafuyu bristled at his comment. Her eyes followed his form as he moved towards the open wardrobe. "I was just about to borrow some clothes anyway."

She watched as he yanked the large, atrociously patterned shirt from its hanger and put it on. Surprisingly, it fit him, hanging comfortably on his frame, rather than fitting loosely, like it did on hers.

Takaomi continued to leisurely search for a pair of loose sweatpants, or anything else that would potentially fit him, in her closet. "I thought you were dead or something. I even tried kicking you in your sleep several times."

Mafuyu was taken aback. "You...kicked me?" She didn't know whether to grieve over the way he mistreated her body while she slept or not. Looking up to stare at Takaomi with the most bewildered expression on her face, a chill ran down her spine. What a sadist. Takaomi's brutality was as fearful as ever. Mortification settling in, she automatically started feeling over her body for bruises. Discovering nothing wrong with herself, Mafuyu coughed. "So...where are you going to get clothes and other things? Are you gonna buy them?"

Takaomi stopped what he was doing to face her. The expression he had looked almost innocent. "What? Can't I just use yours?"

Mafuyu automatically reeled back, eyes wide. No nononono! He can't do that! It was enough that she had relented to let him live at her place for an indeterminate time...but for him to use her items and clothes regularly too? Shifting her eyes to her closet, she looked at the array of large patterned shirts she loved to buy. They all seemed to be around his size, she thought morosely. It wasn't her fault she loved billowy, loose-fitting clothes! She quickly thought about pants. While she had a few shirts to accommodate him, she couldn't say the same about bottoms. She imagined him trying to squeeze into a pair of her cute denim shorts. She flinched.

Before she could even so much relent to his comment, Takaomi sighed in exasperation. "I already promised to pay utilities and I'm going to give you a salary for your services. What more do you want?" Mafuyu could feel her embarrassment rise. It sounded worse than she thought when she heard it out loud. She faltered, averting her eyes.

Shaking off her embarrassment, Mafuyu sat up in bed cross-legged, chin resting on her palm. "What if I told you I could get your things in your apartment?" She stared at him determinedly. This way, if she could fix the problem early on, she wouldn't have to deal with this mess anymore. Then he'd leave her alone and all will be normal again! The more she thought about it, the more invested she became in the idea. She nodded to herself firmly. Yes, that was it. It was nice seeing him, but she'd have her space back...

Raising his eyebrows, Takaomi spared a questioning glance at her. "Ah. And how are you going to do that?"

"I mean, what if I broke into your apartment for you?" Mafuyu blurted out, her eyes wide and completely uncomprehending. It seemed more like a half-assed promise than an actual plan.

Takaomi let out a snort. The door was locked, he had no key, and he had already tried breaking down the front door of his apartment in the morning. Seeming how his attempt to open the door failed, trying to open the door from the front a second time was going to call unwanted attention to the apartment, he realized.

Mafuyu seemed to read the disbelief on his face. "Umm…I mean, instead of opening the apartment from the front, what if we tried the back? Then you can get your clothes and gain access to the apartment. What do you think?"

Mafuyu jabbered on, not really registering what was coming out of her mouth. It was hard times like these when she just let her lips flow and usually, something she would say would end up saving her lucky ass. She figured whatever she had just said was good enough, since from whatever promises she was spouting, they seemed half-rational, from what she thought. She looked at him expectantly.

"Okay." Takaomi immediately turned to continue searching for a pair of pants in Mafuyu's closet. Finding a pair of loose cotton boxers, he disappeared from her sight. He put them on, covering himself underneath the towel, sliding them up long built legs. When he emerged, Mafuyu looked away distractedly. Luckily, those shorts were big for her, but…they still looked awkward on him. Registering what he had just said, she blinked. "Wait. Huh?"

"Sounds good. Go ahead, then. Open my apartment and I'll be able to move out of here. It'll be easier for me that way," he said calmly, taking off the towel and hanging it around his neck. Takaomi's tone was flat, but his eyes glinted. He was offering her an amused challenge of sorts that he imagined would most likely end in failure.

Chest swelling at his admission, Mafuyu could feel herself rejoicing in the moment. She smiled inwardly at whatever magic she seemed to pull out of her ass this time. She could totally see the light—now, just on with the plan, starting with step one...

A few minutes passed. Drumming her fingers on her forearm, Mafuyu sat in silence, lowering her determined gaze to the hardwood floor. Her confidence deflated a little.

Uh...yeah. Shit.

She hadn't thought too much about how she would go about doing it.

Takaomi shifted, taking a seat on the floor. Raising his eyebrows expectantly, he almost smirked. "So do you actually have an idea? What do you plan to do?" When she didn't answer, he leaned back comfortably, taking the damp towel around his neck, aiming it at her head.

The damp plush of towel smacked her face, making her sputter. With the towel draping over her face, Mafuyu smelled the sharp herbal scent from the soap invade her nostrils, the towel still damp with water. Reaching up slowly, she yanked down the towel as thoughts started to occur to her. Her eyes widened in realization. The towel...it had been around his waist. He probably used it to dry his whole body off. It probably touched his—oh god no. She didn't even want to think about it.

Shrugging off the towel in disgust, she quickly rubbed her face with her hands before glaring at him. "What the hell is your problem?"

Watching her amusedly, Takaomi held back a snicker and tried to maintain a straight face. He shrugged. "You looked like you were in pain...thinking so hard like that." A chuckle managed to escape him as he leaned back, staring at the ceiling. "Also, your towel...it was the only one in the bathroom. I ended up using it."

Mafuyu squinted her eyes before blinking. Did she just hear that right? He used her towel? A stretch of silence took over as Takaomi's words hung in the air.

Not giving herself the time to process what she had just heard before it could do any more damage to her dignity, Mafuyu swiftly snatched the damp towel before throwing it in the hamper. Resisting the urge to throttle Takaomi as she passed him, she rushed out of the room and slammed the door, her face set in a panicked expression. Tightening her lips, Mafuyu opened up the storage closet, pulling towels and dish rags off the shelves in a desperate search for something, anything to help her with her plan to break open his apartment. Turning around, she looked at the door of her bedroom door, where she left Takaomi. Head falling back, she let out a groan.

Fucking hell.

Forget their previous agreement; she needed to get him out of her apartment...now.


Somewhere in the bustling lobby of an Osaka train station, a young man sat in street clothes too hot for the weather. An indecipherable expression ran over the man's features as he punched numbers into his cell phone. Calling her a second time, he grit his teeth in desperation, hoping she'd pick up. Two rings. It cut to voicemail.

Damn it, he cursed.

Face set in a thorough scowl, Hayasaka absentmindedly brushed back the brassy golden locks he maintained, taking the receiver from his ear. He stared blankly at his phone, at a complete loss of what to do.

A stuttering Kurosaki telling him about her new boyfriend and something about Saeki-sensei from high school, some shouting, a few scuffling noises, and Kurosaki repeatedly apologizing in a desperate voice before abruptly hanging up...

It didn't make sense to him at all.

Actually...it just didn't seem right.

It was nothing new to him that Kurosaki got herself into messes all the time, but when it came to her being in trouble, Hayasaka could feel the familiar pit of anxiety in his stomach churn uneasily, leaving him in a constant state of agitation and worry. Dialing her number again, Hayasaka felt his panic spike as it went to voicemail once more.

Why was she not answering? Hayasaka felt the sweat running down his forehead as his imagination ran wild. The voice in the background had been male and had an aggressive tone. There were even a few noises in the back. Objects were probably being thrown. What were they fighting about? To think Kurosaki was waiting on an abusive man she had called her boyfriend hand and foot...what type of fool was she? An M?

Shoving his phone in his pocket from irritation, Hayasaka shook his head. He couldn't imagine what type of life Kurosaki was living until now. Had she always been this lost without his help? He sighed.

Since their years in high school, Hayasaka had always felt a certain obligation towards her as a friend. Kurosaki was someone that he just couldn't leave alone. Maybe it was because he didn't trust her enough to take care of herself, he thought sadly. But no matter.

An abusive relationship…he couldn't let it stand. And if there was another guy who was usurping his position as Kurosaki's guardian, but taking advantage of it by mistreating her, well, Hayasaka thought was better that he remained by her side instead of that guy. She was his responsibility in these situations. Knowing Kurosaki's poor judgment of character, she had grown accustomed to putting herself in dangerous situations where men were constantly fighting. It was only natural that she'd be attracted to someone who was violent, he guessed. Getting up from the metal chair he sat in, Hayasaka dusted himself off with a resolute expression on his face, having made a decision. The relationship she is in is no good. I'll have to talk her out of it.

Walking quickly to catch his train back to his apartment, he pulled out his phone, dialing her number once again. Taking a deep breath, he put the phone to his ear. This time, he'd leave a message.

"Hey Kurosaki, you haven't been answering. I know this is sudden, but I feel that this is necessary for me to do..."

Hayasaka hesitated to continue, taking the phone receiver from his ear. The last time he visited Kurosaki was last summer, and that had only been for a few days. He hadn't known how much different she was going to be, considering her situation. He pressed on, trying to maintain a placating tone. If he let on the fact that he was worried about her, she'd never accept it.

"Please stay where you are. You're living in the same place, right? I hope you're okay..."

Hayasaka mentally face-palmed when he instantly recalled several times Mafuyu made their situation worse during high school, prompting the Disciplinary Club to use drastic measures to save their asses. It was getting harder and harder to keep calm under these circumstances.

"Seriously, Kurosaki. Just...stay safe." Hayasaka finally snapped, incapable of keeping his voice from rising to a shout. "Don't do anything stupid like you normally do, you idiot!"

Unable to finish his call, Hayasaka hung up and grit his teeth, finding a seat on the train. It would pointless to even tell her not to do anything stupid. Checking the calendar on his phone, he cancelled the next few events he had listed down. He'd miss a few study sessions he had planned for his senior project, and perhaps that road trip with friends. He felt the exhaustion sink into his bones as he slumped in his chair.

Opening up a new entry in his calendar, Hayasaka started to type a new list of tasks to do, replacing the events he just cancelled. He'd need to book a flight; it was faster by plane to get there anyway. That, and a hotel. So inconvenient; he couldn't believe he was doing this. For the sake of his peace of mind and Kurosaki's well being though, it was a small price to pay. She better be thankful...

He frowned. "That idiot. It's better that I get there sooner than later."


Watching her silently, Takaomi sat on the disheveled futon in the bedroom as Mafuyu flitted back and forth among her wardrobe, the hallway closet and the kitchen, pulling a bunch of items from various places. She seemed incredibly determined. Propping himself on an arm, he listed the items indolently as they rested against the wall next to the balcony.

A wrench, rubber dishwashing gloves, a surgical mask, some goggles...

It was amusing. A smirk forming on his face, Takaomi started to wonder. What was she trying to do? He observed quietly as she strapped a bunch of t-shirts to her knees and elbows with masking tape to create makeshift knee and elbow pads, and started to snicker as she put on the mask, the goggles and the gloves, along with her tennis shoes. Hearing the noise, Mafuyu whipped around, glaring at him. "What? What's so funny?"

Takaomi stifled his laughter. "Maa, it's nothing important. Continue working." He didn't hide the smirk as he watched her carry out her plan silently.

Making her way to the balcony, Mafuyu grasped the large wrench, shoving it in the elastic waistband of her shorts in a way none too comfortable. Since trying to break down the front door was out of the question after it was so easy look suspicious, like she had viewed Takaomi in the morning, this was the best she could come up with. Bobby pins and conventional lock picking devices wouldn't work in this case, since the doors she would be breaking down didn't work like that. Making sure the wrench wouldn't fall out of her shorts, she ran to the left side of the railing, grinning smugly.

Takaomi walked over to the balcony's sliding doors, watching Mafuyu's spindly frame curiously as she climbed over the wobbling balcony railing. It was almost cute to see her try...in a small endearing pet kind-of-way. He leaned against the door frame, tilting his head to see her climbing into the neighboring balcony. His eyebrows furrowed skeptically. "Maa, seriously. Just what do you think you're trying to do?"

Not looking back for a second, Mafuyu found her footing as she landed in the balcony. "Shut up, I'm busy." Taking the wrench out from her shorts, she held the wrench tightly in one hand before taking a defensive stance towards the doors leading to the apartment bedroom. Realizing what she was about to do, Takaomi's eyes widened a fraction before he reached out, shouting at her. "Wait. Mafuyu—"

WHAM.

Arm swinging with the full force of one of her punches, Mafuyu rammed the wrench into the glass doors of the balcony, before taking her arm back a second time to repeat the action. The glass shattered with the blow. Straightening from her stance, Mafuyu walked back to the railing to make her way over, leaning back to admire her handiwork. She looked over to the side at Takaomi, smirking. "There. How's that? Apartment's open. Now you can—"

"AHHHHHH!" A woman's scream came from inside the apartment she broke into, wiping the triumphant smirk off Mafuyu's face. Tentative footsteps from beyond the door came from inside, and the view inside was obstructed by the fractured glass where Mafuyu broke it, casting a blurry image so that Mafuyu couldn't tell what movement was going on beyond the door she had just cracked. Takaomi and Mafuyu stood, flabbergasted.

Taking a few breaths to recollect himself, Takaomi pointed towards the mess of broken glass where Mafuyu stood. He met her eyes. "Mafuyu. That is not my apartment." Watching her eyes follow his arm, he pointed to the balcony on the other side. "This is my apartment."

Mafuyu shook her head and blinked. She looked at the fragmented glass on the floor. "Then...that means—"

Mafuyu sprang into action, throwing the wrench off several stories into the streets below as she scrambled back over the railing to her balcony porch like a mad squirrel. Still wearing her mask and goggles, Mafuyu could barely make out the blur of a moving figure making its way to the broken glass door from the corner of her eye. She jumped, pushing Takaomi roughly through the door frame of her own balcony before slamming the sliding doors shut and closing the blinds. Muffled shouts and curses from her next-door neighbor were heard through the glass as Mafuyu stood in her room pressed against Takaomi, with wide eyes. Shit.

She broke into the wrong apartment.

Pushing himself away from her hold, Takaomi exasperatedly strode over to the ruined futon before lying in it face up, draping an arm across his eyes. Making no comment, he turned to the side.

Eyes set in a panicked expression, Mafuyu broke out of her frozen shock. She walked back to her balcony's sliding doors, opening them slightly, the screams of the woman living next door coming in. She winced as she listened carefully to the woman's hysterical voice talking on the phone, calling the police. Along with a few colorful curses, she heard the words "vandalism," "third floor apartment" and "masked boy with metal pole" (while she didn't mind that the woman next door had no idea who it was, Mafuyu was a bit hurt that she would be mistaken as a boy with a pole when she was obviously a girl with a wrench). Yanking off her gear and taking off the gloves, Mafuyu sank to her knees. Damn it. From the way it sounded, the police were probably going to come. Throwing her head back, Mafuyu let out an angry groan. This was bad. Very bad.

Bringing her hands to her head, she looked over at Takaomi's back as he started to settle into a resting position, where he apparently decided to completely ignore the embarrassing situation that took place a few minutes ago. With the situation as it was now, there was no doubt about it that he'd have to stay. And with the police roaming around after the neighbor's call, there would be no chance for her to remedy the problem by getting into his apartment or anything. "Well...fuck this."

Unable to stand the agitated yammer of the next-door neighbor and the absolute indifference the man in front of her seemed to have towards the situation, Mafuyu stood up again, running out of the apartment in a rush, grabbing her shopping bag and keys again. She didn't even say a word as she left, leaving Takaomi to silently follow her with his eyes, before turning over on the futon to gaze listlessly at the ceiling. Shutting the door behind her with eyes falling on the wrench she had thrown a couple of stories below, she jogged along the sidewalk aimlessly, looking for a destination.

She needed to stay away for a while.


It was dark by the time she came back. Mafuyu had spent the rest of her day out, walking around the city, loitering around shopping centers like a high schooler would during the last day of summer.

Walking up the stairs to her apartment, Mafuyu noticed the police line "do not cross" tape covering her next-door neighbor's balcony above, with a few pieces of cardboard haphazardly taped where the glass was broken to maintain any semblance of privacy. Peering down the flights of steps, she looked for the wrench to find that it was gone. Swallowing slightly, Mafuyu reassured herself that she wore gloves. However, the police car parked down the block for patrol wasn't any consolation.

Reaching her door, she found a flyer attached, warning tenants of the dangerous crime attempt that happened today. She rolled her eyes, scoffing at the poster. At least there was barely anything to describe the culprit. Taking out her keys, she opened the door.

It was dark inside. Flicking on a light, Mafuyu looked around. "I'm home," she called out. No answer. "Takaomi-kun?" Her voice sounded hollow in the quiet apartment.

Taking off her shoes and making her way to the bedroom, she walked in, expecting him to be where she had left him. She found the futon, still completely undone, her apartment the way she had left it. Socks and gloves from the escapade in the afternoon littered the floor. He wasn't inside. Mafuyu found herself growing slightly irritated by the minute. Why was he not here? Did he just get up and run? She made her way to the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room: what she found there was nothing. The rooms were completely empty. She couldn't find him anywhere. She found herself sighing again in absolute exasperation, feeling surprisingly disappointed at the quiet state of her apartment. So...he had really just gone up and left. She felt a little bitter, knowing that they didn't even leave on comfortable terms. She had smashed another person's glass door in another attempt to get him to leave, committed unintentional vandalism, and had an uncomfortable image of seeing how he looked with her clothes on.

Really, Tuesday was a mixed bag of sorts. Waking up to find Takaomi crashing into her life, the afternoon filled with accidents, property damage and mishaps was beyond what she expected, and there were so many awkward moments that she couldn't believe she had the ability to face him in a fully functional social relationship. To be honest, Mafuyu should have felt relieved. Saeki Takaomi was gone as swiftly as he arrived. Was today just a really crazy day? Or was it a dream?

Washing up and putting on a nightshirt, Mafuyu couldn't help but stay awake for a few more hours. Although the night was comfortably warm and everything seemed to be settled, Mafuyu felt a little empty at the lack of excitement with which the day ended. She also couldn't help but feel slightly cheated by Takaomi and his sudden departure once more. He's gone again, but oh well...

Turning over on her side, Mafuyu felt her eyelids grow heavy and purposely shoved away any thoughts of Takaomi as she drifted off to sleep. After this harrowing day, nothing seemed to be more important to her than rest. As sleep took over, Mafuyu glanced from her place, noting the t-shirts still rolled up in masking tape on the floor, but quickly dismissed it.

Tomorrow, she'd have all the time in the world to think about it.


A/N.

Long time no see. I apologize for not updating this in a month, but I've been putting together the rest of the plot, as well as having already published chapters beta-ed. Anyway, I hope you like this chapter...let's hope Hayasaka doesn't do anything absolutely ridiculous now! And hmm...for Takaomi to be gone...where did he go? The next chapter will hopefully be coming out sooner than later, so please make sure to read and let me know what you think!

Also, I'd still love to hear from readers what their favorite pairings are and who they'd love to see introduced next in the plot. I intend for this fic to be long and fairly epic, and it is just starting...and while I have my own ideas and plot bunnies, I love hearing what readers have to say about their favorite characters and who they'd love to see interact!

Other than that, hope you enjoyed it. The plot will thicken soon... :)

Reviews, constructive criticism and suggestions are appreciated always! :D