A/N: Keep in mind this is my first fanfic. I thought there was a serious lack of Ao Hara Ride ones and decided I wanted to write one myself, so if it's awful, sorry, blame lack of experience?
Reviews are always appreciated.
*Disclaimer: I do not own Ao Haru Ride,it's characters, story, dialogue etc. The dialogue used here is taken from the original manga but the rest is how I imagined Kou coping with seeing Futaba again after all this time.*
For as long as Kou lived, he would never forget the day he met Futaba Yoshioka... again.
He had noticed her straight away.
Even though it had been years since he had last seen her, he could still pick out her quiet laugh, that should have easily been washed out by the sound of the other students in the hallway, as if it was as loud as alarm bells.
It had never crossed Kou's mind that he might coincidently end up going to the same high school as the first girl he had ever liked.
But now seeing her with two girls she obviously had nothing in common with, Kou found himself at a loss.
He had changed.
He wasn't the boy she knew any more.
Wasn't the boy she had liked.
Not that it mattered, it had been months since the beginning of school and she still hadn't recognised him, and she probably never would.
Kou had accepted that fact but he still wasn't used to the ache he felt in his chest when he thought about her or saw her walking past his homeroom on the way to her own.
In all fairness he probably would have made a move to talk to her had it not been for the fact that his older brother was a teacher at the school and even though he did not know that she was at this school, he did know about Kou's middle school infatuation with Yoshioka Fatuba.
And Kou certainly did not want his brother getting in his business about her again.
It had been annoying enough the first time.
However lately he had seen a change in her.
Not in her behaviour exactly, that had stayed exactly the same, like it was a routine she had drilled into her head.
But now she seemed tired, as if she was having to put on an act everyday of her life rather than be herself.
Kou knew that type of tiredness well.
Or maybe, Kou thought, she's just exhausted after eating so much.
Of course he had also noticed the amount she ate these days, who wouldn't notice the girl buying 6 bread buns at lunch everyday?
In fact, he found it mesmerising watching her eat loaf after loaf of bread and never seem to put on a pound.
He knew other girls would kill for that ability but Yoshioka didn't even seem like she would care if she put a little weight on due to her eating habits.
He had also noticed how the other boys looked at her.
They thought she was cute.
Until they saw her eating.
Maybe that was the point, maybe she was putting in as much effort at not getting noticed by boys as the other girls did for the very opposite reason.
Well, she's always hated boys right? Maybe she hasn't changed much at all.
Kou sighed to himself as he walked down the long hallway on his way to the cafeteria.
Perhaps the reason his grades were dropping was because something, or someone, else was always on his mind when he attempted to concentrate on studying.
A few other students were in the hallway, walking to or from the lunchroom, but it was much quieter at this time of day when most of the students had already rushed to grab their lunches first.
And because of the low level of volume he heard the name that never failed to make his heart skip a beat.
"Hey, classmate Yoshioka is cute, isn't she?"
Instantly his hands curled into fists and his lips pressed together in a hard line.
He turned around the corner and saw Yoshioka, frozen in place by the indiscreet comment from the boys behind her.
Suddenly decision flashed in her eyes and within seconds she was eating her lunch like she had been starved from food for months.
The reaction from the boys was obvious as there expressions transformed from shock to disgust and then proceeded to walk away without a second glance.
Futaba and her friends walked in Kou's direction as they scolded her on her tomboy-like mannerisms which she just seemed to shrug off.
They were walking right towards him.
The opportunity was too perfect to pass up.
So he lowered his head and continued walking, pretending as if he had no idea he was on a set collision course.
Every step closer to her Kou became hyper aware of the distance between them decreasing.
She was talking with her friends.
She was looking down at her food.
Although Kou could swear that he could feel the electricity rush between them as soon as there shoulders bumped together he kept a passive look on his face.
Yoshioka was so surprised she lost the grip on her lunch and it almost fell to the floor had Kou's reactions not been so fast.
He caught the bread roll with a flavoured filling and handed it back without looking at her.
"Sorry." She said, while taking back her lunch, in the sweet voice Kou had only heard from a distance and in his most treasured memories.
Unable to keep a straight face much longer, he walked passed her.
"The bread almost lost it's taste." He said with a tone without any emotion.
He continued to walk down the hallway, refusing to look back, with a smirk on his face.
He didn't even know why such a short encounter made his heart race with delight.
As he began to walk down the steps he became aware of the light footsteps behind him but he willed himself not to turn.
Walking outside onto the patio he suddenly heard someone shout "Mabuchi".
He had changed it to that after his parents divorce, thinking it easier to have his mothers surname while he was with her rather than keeping his fathers.
But now all that name left him with was memories of it written on the end of a hospital bed.
In a moment all of the humour of the past few minutes vanished and he turned to see who had shouted the name that had shattered his good mood.
As he turned the first person he saw was Yoshioka.
It was the first time he had got to look at her while she was looking back.
Her large eyes were wide with stunned confusion that matched the rest of her expression.
She was staring at him with a kind of wonder that he could only imagine was due to her trying to understand what was happening.
After all that did she still not know who he was?
Of course she did.
Otherwise she wouldn't have followed him out.
Kou managed to keep his own face expressionless as he ripped his gaze away from the stunned beauty to focus on the friend that had called him, who was now walking past Yoshioka to speak to him.
When his friend caught up with him, Kou proceeded to walk with him, but not without casting a crooked smile in the direction of the girl who was stood motionless, still staring at him.
Quickly she looked down, a blush invading her face causing her to look even more adorable in Kou's opinion.
For the rest of the day his head was once again invaded with memories of Yoshioka, however now he had much more recent memories to add to his mental memory book.
The smell of her shampoo as he bumped into her.
The sharp intake of breath and the way her eyes widened slightly as she took in the sight of him.
The small crease in between her eyebrows as she tried to figure out if he was in fact who he thought.
And, of course.
The rush of colour the spread across her face like wildfire after he smiled at her.
Well, Kou thought to himself, at least school was worth it today.
It was only on the journey home that it occurred to Kou that he would make the journey with Yoshioka herself.
He didn't know why he had never thought of it before, when they were in middle school it was a known fact to the pair of them that they only lived a short distance away from each other.
It must have slipped his mind as he had never seen her on his way home.
She must take a different route.
Well, until that day.
Once again he became aware of footsteps behind him as he walked down the road.
Then there was a small gasp.
He turned around to see Yoshioka.
He didn't say anything
He didn't need to.
Words were already rushing out of her mouth.
"It's not like I'm following you or anything!" She cried in obvious embarrassment, "I live around here too."
She held a hand in the air as if to stop Kou from replying.
So he still said nothing even as an awkward silence descended.
Then he decided to see how far this girl would take it.
He looked her in the eye for a split second before he turned his back on her and began to walk away again.
She followed awkwardly, obviously embarrassed about going in the same direction.
After only a couple of minutes they reached the shrine that held his most perfect memories.
Kou came to a stop and glanced back at Yoshioka, who finally seemed to be putting it all together, to see if it provoked a reaction.
She stood, once again, in stunned silence.
Kou continued walking, leaving the motionless girl where she stood.
When he came to the place they had both once stood under for shelter he stopped again and sat.
He heard footsteps running towards him and he tried to stop the quickening of his heart.
She's worked it out.
"Ta..." came a small voice, flooded with uncertainty, "Tanaka-Kun?"
The innocence of the sound of the name that had once belonged to him felt like a blow to the stomach as he was reminded that she no longer knew him.
He wasn't 'Tanaka-Kun' any more.
She had to know that.
He looked at her, pausing to take in her face.
"I'm Mabuchi though." He stated. Emotionless once more.
Her response was both adorable and heartbreaking at the same time.
Her faced flushed even darker than it had earlier as she looked at her shoes.
Swiftly she turned on her heels and began to walk briskly away.
"Sorry," she mumbled through her as she began to leave, "I was wrong!"
No. Don't go.
Kou looked away and said the one line that would have got her to stay.
"It's suddenly pouring, huh."
The noise of her retreat stopped suddenly as the words hit home.
He couldn't take it anymore.
He looked at her and grinned again.
"So it is Tanaka-Kun?" She gasped.
"I already said I'm not Tanaka-Kun though," he replied, "I'm Mabuchi right now."
She looked confused... again.
"My parents had filed for a divorce, so I changed my name." He explained while looking away.
He was sick of seeing the pitying looks people gave him when he told them about his parents, especially when they found out about his mother, he didn't want to see that look anywhere near Yoshioka's expression.
Without giving her a chance to reply he changed the subject.
"Still," he said, "you were completely oblivious towards my existence. I was wondering when you might start noticing but it was not until today that you realised something. I find that too amusing."
Kou had to stop himself at laughing at Yoshioka; it looked as if she was having a mental breakdown.
"I knew right away it was you even though you had also changed." Kou admitted.
Of course he did.
"I initially thought you would have become more feminine and soft-spoken." He smirked.
That pushed Yoshioka out of her shocked state, just as he was hoping.
"TH-THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST CALLED OUT TO ME!" She shouted, however there was no malice in her voice, "TANAKA-KUN HAS ALSO CHANGED A LOT!"
He needed her to stop calling him that, it created the pretence that he was still the person who had stood under this shrine all those years ago and offered a girl his gym shirt to dry her hair.
As much as he would have liked still be 'Tanaka-Kun', it was no longer possible.
He had changed too much.
"I already said I'm no longer Tanaka-Kun," Kou reminded her in a bored tone of voice, "I told you it's Mabuchi."
At last Yoshioka looked defeated.
Kou decided to have a bit of fun of his own.
"Well," he said as he slowly got to his feet and began to walk towards the girl, "for the time being shall we have a reunion hug?"
Reaching an arm out in her direction he said, "Come over here."
If only he had a camera for Yoshioka's expression.
It was one for the memory books, even if it was only the one in his head.
Her eyes were as wide as disks and a single bead of sweat formed on her temple as she tried to decipher if he was serious or not.
Suddenly she took a defensive stance and hugged her bag to her, "NO WAY! THERE IS NO WAY I WANT TO DO SUCH A THING." She burst out.
Kou laughed out loud.
Looking back, he couldn't actually remember the last time he had done that but it felt so good.
But he controlled it so that it was only a snicker.
"Well, that's true," he admitted, "You detest guys from way back then right? It seems to me you still don't like them..."
Understanding flooded Yoshioka's face as she recalled that time she had shouted "I hate all boys!" just moments after Kou had asked her on a date.
"Yeah," confirmed Yoshioka,"I've disliked them since a long time ago."
Kou's heart twisted involuntarily, so it had all been in his-
"But," Yoshioka interrupted his thoughts, "only Tanaka-Kun was different."
His spirits soared and Kou covered his mouth with his hand to hide his surprise, he even forgot to correct her use of his old name.
"Eh... what... is that so..." He stammered before collecting enough courage to confess, "Yeah, me too. I used to like you too."
He saw hope flash in her eyes and he knew what she was thinking, but it couldn't happen, they couldn't go back.
He wasn't Tanaka-Kun.
No matter how much he wanted to be.
Kou lowered his eyes to prevent seeing the hurt takeover the hopeful expression. "We can no longer go back. I'm totally different from that person in the past." He confided before adding, "You too. That was just a brief reminisce of our past, that's all."
Even as he said it his heart was breaking away, piece by piece.
Wasn't this what he had been waiting for all those months.
Why else would he have wanted to know if she recognised him.
He hated himself for doing it, but the logical part of his mind knew it had to be done.
Yoshioka would only be disappointed with Kou Mabuchi.
Her eyes filled, which broke his heart at a faster pace.
He couldn't watch this.
"Don't cry," he said, while swatting her on the head in an attempted to defuse the tension as he walked past her. "It's annoying, stupid."
He didn't look back as he mumbled "See ya."
It hurt too much.