Author: Sousouchan

Manga: Ao Haru Ride

Pairing: Kou x Futaba

Disclaimer: AHR belongs to the talented Sakisaka Io

Summary: She reminds him of a time when he knew what happiness was. Pre-chapter 1 – It's been three years, but Kou notices Yoshioka right away. Oneshot

Warning: Okay, it's been a while since I last wrote something in English (or anything at all), so please forgive my mistakes if there are some ^^ This might be kind of awkward, but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. And reviews are always welcomed \o/

This is the place where he lived for thirteen years, yet everything feels new to him: the school, his teachers, his classmates, even his own home feels kind of awkward. That's probably why he didn't expect to see a familiar face in high school - except for his brother - so soon after the first term started. He's a bit surprised to see her there and it takes him a while to recover.

His heart skips a beat, just like it did so long ago any time she was near, and Kou knows it's her right away. Her fluffy burgundy hair, her full peach-colored lips, her small nose, her rosy cheeks, her soft brown eyes framed by those long and thick eyelashes. He remembers her sitting close to him as they played cops and robbers, all the times they would glance at each other and turn away shyly, he remembers the water drops falling from her hair as they took shelter from the rain.

She reminds him of a time when he knew what happiness was. For a fleeting moment, an old, almost forgotten sensation comes rushing back. It was vague, it was fumbling, but even though their story never truly began, she was his first love.

Yoshioka Futaba.

She looks a bit different from what she used to be before, more outgoing, loud, talkative and messy. To him, it seems like she was forced to fit into a mold and the girls by her side don't suit her at all. She deserves better.

She's laughing loudly at something one of her friends said now, and he realizes that the sound is unknown to him. Not unpleasant, just unknown. There is a pause, and it's obvious that the old her hasn't completely disappeared. She has that same expression again, the soft, vulnerable look that made his heart flutter and made him want to reach out to her before.
He briefly notes that she has become prettier.

He's been looking at her for a while now, but she doesn't seem to notice him at all. He closes his eyes and turns away, not intending to glance back at her, like he used to do so long ago. He pushes the nostalgic feeling at the back of his heart.

He won't let himself think about her. Because it hurts too much, he doesn't want to care about anyone ever again.

The canteen is full of people, yet he always spots her. He's been staring at Yoshioka again and it's bothering him. But it's not like he can help it. Sometimes, just for a second, when he thinks about her, he is almost able to forget what he's going through. Almost.

So his eyes keep following her around, just like they did back in their middle school days... Except that she doesn't stare back. It has been a while since he transferred here, and she hasn't looked at him even once. The girl seems completely oblivious to his existence. What if she had forgotten him? They had known each other for a short time in middle school and weren't even in the same class at that time. After all, she did tell Naitou that she hated boys. Does that mean that she hated him too, back then?

Just like every time, he's amazed at the amount of food she is buying. Really, how much bread is that girl going to eat? Her friends are still thinking about what to choose, probably trying to pick something not to put on weight. Yoshioka stays away from them though, simply holding her plastic bag full of all kind of buns to her chest. And then, she lets her guard down again and that vulnerable look of hers is back on, making his heart clench once more.

She's always been beautiful, so he's not surprised when some other guys on his left notice her, too.

-Hey, isn't that girl pretty cute?

-Ah, she's a kouhai. Yoshioka Futaba from class 1-2 if I remember well. She is quite attractive but seems to be rather tomboyish. Seriously, look at all that food, not girly at all.

-Well, it's not like I care about that stuff. She's got a pretty face and even though you can't really tell with that uniform on, she seems to have quite a nice body too, don't you think?

-Hahaha, you're right. Cute and feminine girls are good as girlfriends, but fierce girls like her are definitely more fun to play with, if you get what I mea-

These guys are disgusting. Kou doesn't want to hear any more and quickly leaves the canteen, without his lunch, not even bothering to wait for his classmates.

His feelings are a mess, and if he stays any longer, he's afraid he'll act on them and just beat the crap out of these guys.

His brother really is annoying sometimes. He's after him again and Kou feels like he spends half of the time in school trying to avoid him. Today, because of his annoying oni-chan, he's late for lunch. He still has a lot of time to eat, but Yoshioka always comes early and if he doesn't hurry now, he'll definitely miss her. He has to admit that he's given up on trying to avoid her. Everything's fine as long as he doesn't get involved with her, right?

He quickly walks through the corridors, occasionally looking around to see if he can spot her somewhere. And then he hears it, the high, annoying voice of one of Yoshioka's so called "friends".

-Hey, did you hear that just now? If you'd just be a bit careful and act more like a girl, you'd definitely be popular!

-Huh?! Like I care!

She's right in front of him. He's never been so close to her since high school started, a few months ago.

- I generally dislike guys, anyway.

-Woah, what an unhealthy thing to say.

Ah, that's right, she hates boys. But having her standing so close to him, he realizes that just looking at her from afar is not enough. He wants to know if she also felt that way about him or if she genuinely returned his feelings back then. He wants to make sure that all of it wasn't just something he had imagined on his own. He needs to hold onto that faraway feeling of being happy, of having a real family, of having someone he liked and liked him back. He has to be reminded that long ago, his life didn't feel like he was going through hell every single day.

-As long as I have you guys to hang out with, I could care less about bo-

He purposely bumps into her and watches as her bun falls down. He quickly catches it.

-Ah. Sorry.

Still not looking him in the eyes, huh? Looks like he missed his chance.

-What a plain lunch.

A part of him is disappointed. It seems like she really doesn't remember him. Maybe it's for the best. She makes him care and he wants to avoid that at all costs. He'll just have to get a better grip on his feelings every time he feels helpless. It's not like she can save him.

-Ah. Mabuchi! You headed to the canteen now? Same here.

He turns around to face his classmate and he is surprised to see her there. She has followed him; she's finally looking at him properly. One glance is enough to know that she has recognized him.

So Kou smiles at her, sincerely, something he feels like he hasn't done in ages. He wants her to keep chasing him. He wants her to make him smile again.

He wants her to make him remember what happiness is.

AN: Like a lot of people from the Ao Haru Ride tumblr, I wanted to read that part of the story from Kou's point of view. Hope it was up to your expectations and that I kept Kou in-character (even though he's quite Tanaka-kun-ish).

By the way, because people have been taking/translating my fics without asking properly before, do NOT take or translate this. Thanks.