A short story about lost-and-found loves told from Asuta's perspective. It follows the concept of him finding his first kiss and what comes after. Please enjoy!
-Chapter One: Who Is That Girl?-
Am I going to be girlfriendless forever? I'm beginning to think so. Needless to say, that Hazumu-esque cutie I had exchanged emails with was only interested in "being friends." Story of my life. The only girl who really ever took interest in me was my (formerly male) friend Hazumu. However, her affections were more out of concern than out of any romantic interest. On top of that, female Hazumu still liked girls. She had found the love of a lifetime in our friend Tomari-Chan. So, even though Hazumu was the girl of my dreams, there was no room for me there. Not that I would have it any other way... Hazumu was happy.
That still left me alone, I wasn't too keen on being 36 and single like Namiko-Sensei. I looked around at my table mates. The five of us -Hazumu, Tomari, Yasuna, Ayuki, and I- were borrowing the largest available table in our favorite cafe. We sat in a circle, snacking on pastries and drinking sweet lemonades. From the window next to us, we could see that it was the perfect spring day. Nice weather, good food, great friends, absolutely nothing could go wrong.
"...had a girlfriend."
Hmm? Did I say nothing could go wrong? Who mentioned a girlfriend? Glancing back around the table, I saw that everyone's eyes were on me. So, I'm guessing the girlfriend comment was directed at me. "Ah, what did you say?"
"I said I wish you had a girlfriend," Hazumu helpfully informed me. "Because you're so nice, you really deserve one."
"How did this subject come up?" I asked, blushing.
Hazumu was quick to inform me again of their reasoning. "Well, we girls spend a lot of time together..." Here she took Tomari's hand under the table, "and we feel bad for leaving you out. There are no boys in our group for you to hang out with, either."
"You're lonely," Ayuki put in rather coldly. She really didn't mean anything by it, this just was her nature. Still, those words were like a brilliant slap to the face.
"A girl might help you fill your time better." I see Tomari-Chan. You want Hazumu all to yourself.
"Aww, come on guys! I don't need a girlfriend! I mean, I'd like one, but..."
"We'll help you get one, Asuta! That way, you won't be lonely, even when we can't be with you!" Hazumu declared cheerfully.
I raised a skeptical eyebrow. Every girl at of dating age at our school was either in a relationship, not interested, or I wasn't interested in them. Or... in some case, not interested in boys... I looked over at Yasuna-Chan. "How do you suppose we do that? Every girl here knows me... and isn't all that interested in me."
"I think," Ayuki began, pushing up her glasses up her nose, "we should start with the type of girl you're interested in, and go from there."
"Yeah, yeah! So, Asuta, what type of girl do you like?" Hazumu leaned in.
'What type of girl do I like?' Well, Hazumu, you should really know what type of girl I like. You're my best friend. And... you are my type. Cute, sweet, generous, can make me smile... and maybe... just a little bit of a scaredy-cat. "Someone who can make me smile," I decided finally. "And cuteness is definitely a plus."
"A cute girl who can make you laugh..." Ayuki murmured. I could tell she was giving it serious thought. "Have you ever met anyone before that fit those qualifications?"
I looked at Hazumu. There was one. "Well, there was one before. But I really don't think an elementary school crush counts." I laughed.
"Sure it counts," encouraged Hazumu. "That was that girl you told me about in third grade, right?"
I nodded in confirmation. "Sure was. My first kiss.I don't think I'll ever forget that kiss with Yuki on the slide."
"Maybe she hasn't forgotten about it, either."
"What are you saying, Hazumu?"
"Let's find Yuki-Chan!"
-Chapter Two: Finding Yuki-Chan-
"That sounds like a fantastic idea," Ayuki began, becoming the voice of reason, "but we can't begin our search yet. We need more information. Do you remember her last name, Asuta?"
"No... I don't. I only remember her as Yuki-Chan." My hopes of finding a girlfriend were dashed before we could even begin. How could we find her without a last name? There were just too many Yukis to search through in Japan. Even in our area. Hell, "Yuki" could have been part of her name. Like "Ayuki's" name for example. That, and who was to say that she had stayed in this area after all these years? She could have moved.
"Well, that's not good." Ayuki went back to thinking.
"Sorry Asuta..." Hazumu sighed. I could tell she felt bad for getting my hopes up.
"It's okay, Hazumu, it really wasn't your faul-"
"What did she look like?" Ayuki interrupted my pity-party. "If you give us that information, we should be able to conduct a search."
"She had a little bit of foreign blood in her, I think." I began to recall images of Yuki from elementary school. "Her hair was wavy, and caramel in color. Blue eyes..." I closed my eyes, picturing her. "And she had a small mole under her left eye."
Ayuki stood up. "I think I can work with that. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to consult a few of my sources. I should be able to get back to you tomorrow."
Everyone waved and passed on goodbyes. 'Consult a few of her sources?' What in the world did THAT mean?
-Chapter Three: The Hunt is On-
It was early the next day when Ayuki had gathered everyone around her desk in class. On the desk was a set of papers with names on them. "I was able to get my research done," She said casually, "with the help of a fellow observer of love." Whatever that meant, she glanced over at Sora-Sensei when she did. "And after eliminating a mass of "Yukis" we have compiled a list of five names that could potentially be the Yuki you remember." She handed me the list.
"So, how am I supposed to find her? Go around to each of these houses and ask if a Yuki that kissed a boy named Asuta lives there? No thanks." I put the papers down. Hopeless and embarrassing.
"That's one way you could do it, but I have a better idea." Ayuki smiled. Ayuki smiling is the base of what nightmares are made of. It's just too creepy for words. Why? Because when Ayuki smiles... She has a plan.
"So... I'm supposed to go to each house and ask them questions?" It was after school, and Hazumu, Ayuki, Tomari, Yasuna, and I were waiting in the emptied classroom discussing her brilliant plan. I have to say that I wasn't too sure about it.
"That's correct. You'll go to each house with the paper-Ayuki handed me a name sheet-and say you are conducting a research survey for your class. Tell them you're doing a survey on common names, counting how many people on the block have any of these common names." Ayuki pointed to the list that she had compiled of "common" names. Strategically, she had placed "Yuki" right at the top."Make sense?"
"Yeah, but what if Yuki isn't the one who answers? What then?" Ayuki had a great idea, but there was a big hole in her plan.
"When you 'learn' that there is a Yuki in the house, say that you would like to ask them a few further questions-since they have one of the common names, of course. If they press you about it, say you want to ask them 'if they feel unique with a widely-used name' or something to that effect."
She was good. Ayuki had thought of everything. "Great, then let's go."
"'Let's?'" A confused Ayuki pouted. "This is a task you have to complete on your own. Otherwise it won't work. But, we will be nearby keeping tabs and cheering you on."
"And I, of course, will be present to take notes on this romantic experiment." Sora-Sensei had popped up without warning, startling me.
Great. I had to humiliate myself in front of Sora-Sensei too?
I stood just before the first house, gripping the papers in my hand tightly. I was nervous-heart pounding, palms sweating, mind whirling. What if this was the house? What would I say when I saw her again? Would I recognize her? Most likely, I would. But more importantly, would she recognize me? What would I do if it was her? What if it wasn't? Well, there was no time like the present, and the present wasn't getting any more current. With a shaking fist, I knocked on the door.
It was a bit of a wait before the door was opened. Honestly, I was about to give up when it creaked open.
"Yes, how may I help you?" A cheery female voice asked.
'U-uh, hi, I'm doing a survey of common names around the block, and I was curious if anyone in the household had these names?" The words came out in a rush, I was nervous. And, I was hoping the lady at the door wasn't Yuki. I don't mean she looked bad, or anything, but she didn't look anything like the Yuki I had envisioned and remembered. But I had to wait and see. Yuki could have changed over the years. This woman was quite young, with brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. The other noticeable thing about her was her large, round, belly. This woman had to be about eight months pregnant, or at least, that's how she appeared. The rest of her body was fairly trim, so I could guess that her over-sized middle was due to a baby. She took the list, and read it over quickly. Her free hand went to her belly as she read, rubbing it. I guess the baby wasn't happy I had bothered his or her mom.
"I'm Yuki." She handed the list back to me. "You can also check Yuri off the list, too."
"A-alright, thank you, miss." I smiled and checked the names off the list. "You've been a big help."
"Not a problem. You've been helpful, too. I'll be sure to name my next little one something different than one of these names."
I laughed. "Good call. Thank you. Take care." I excited her doorstep, a little down, but also relived. I was disappointed that I hadn't found Yuki (but did I really expect to find her on my first try?). However, I was relieved. It wasn't my Yuki. My Yuki was still out there somewhere (I hoped). One down, four to go.
By the time that I had reached door number five, I really wasn't ready to open it. Four strike-outs, and my hope was hinged on a single door? No, thanks. I don't think I could handle the disappointment if she wasn't there. I was going to call it quits, but I was urged on by my friends.
Whoever this Yuki was, she lived in an upscale neighborhood, and in a fancy house to boot. The vast property was in an Victorian style, which you rarely saw nowadays. Her family must have had a lot of money to commission such a monument to Victorian architecture. That wasn't intimidating in the least. Steeling my nerves, I quickly knocked on the door. And waited. What would happen? Would she be here?
-Chapter Four: I've Found You-
I wasn't prepared for what I was about to see. Yuki answered the door, looking pleasantly surprised that she had a visitor. She wasn't just as I had remembered her, in fact, she was so much better. Over the years, she had grown into a really fine young woman: tall, trim, and pretty for sure. Her legs seemed to go on forever. I honestly couldn't stop staring. Although she had changed from that short and stubby third grader, she still had features that I recognized. That little beauty mark beneath her right eye, and her dazzling blue eyes of course. The caramel blonde of her hair now cascaded in waves down her shoulders. For a minute there, I was too shocked to speak.
"Y-Yuki?" I had completely forgotten the ruse Ayuki set up for me. Even if I had remembered it, I'm pretty sure I would have just fumbled over the words.
"That's me." Was it just me, or was she at a loss for words too?
"D-do you remember me? It's Asuta... We used to play together a lot in elementary school..." My explanation sounded lame in my head, and even worse coming out of my mouth. OF COURSE she wouldn't remember me.
"Asuta?" My name sounded wonderful coming out of her mouth. Her voice was so sweet and clear. "Asuta!" Suddenly, she rushed out of the door and hugged me with all her might. "Oh my glob, you've changed so much over the years!" I didn't know if my "changing so much over the years" was a good thing, but considering that she was still hugging me, it seemed to be a good thing. 'Oh my glob.' Haha, yeah that sounded like Yuki-Chan. "Hey, do you have time to stop in and chat for a bit?"
"Well, I don't know..." I glanced over at my friends who were hiding in the bushes, waiting. They probably wanted to get going. However, the looks on their faces told me different. 'Go on' they said. "Actually, I thinkI may have a little time."
"How very excellent! Come on!" She pulled me inside her house. It was every bit as spacious and elegant as I thought. However, it wasn't crammed with dusty heirlooms like I thought it would be. Instead, there was a lot of 'ordinary' clutter. Soccer shoes and gear were tossed into the hallway, papers scattered on a desk... It had a very common interior. I was surprised.
"Hey Mom! You'll never guess who decided to stop in for a bit!"
"Who is that, Yuki?"
"Asuta-Kun! Remember, you used to take us to the park all the time to play?"
"Oh my! Well, don't be rude, honey! Let the boy sit down! Offer him a drink, now, ya hear? Oh, and don't forget to pick up your soccer gear out of the hallway! I don't want anyone to trip over it!" Her mom called from the kitchen.
"Sure mom, just be sure to save some of those cookies for me!" Yuki quickly grabbed the discarded soccer gear in her arms. "Want to come up to my room and hang out until the cookies are done?"
"Sure," I replied eagerly. From what I remembered about Yuki, we would have gone up to her room whether I said yes or no. She had an energy that couldn't be contained, and would be halfway up the stairs before I could even form the word 'no.'
True to my memory, Yuki was racing up the stairs. I followed as quickly as I could behind her. Being behind her, it gave me a chance to look at her. I mean, really look. Don't call me a perv, because what would you do if you were a guy and you got to stare at a pretty girl's behind? You'd so look and you know it. But other than her behind, I was looking at her choice of clothing. Was Yuki-Chan always a tomboy? I couldn't really remember.
Yuki opened the door to her room, which was neat and tidy, as expected. There were posters on the wall of bands I'd never heard of, and ones I had. There was also a shelf lined with books-manga mostly. Was Yuki an Otaku? Looking around at the different papers and pen sets on the desk, I discovered she was an aspiring artist. Then my eyes drifted to her bed: It was large and comfortable looking, with lots of pillows and stuffed animals. Just how I pictured a girl's bed looking.
'Just how I pictured...?' What was I looking at her BED for?! Indecent thoughts! It's not like she was going to invite me to be on her bed with her! Not gonna happen.
Sitting on the foot end of her bed, Yuki said, "you don't have to stand there. Come sit with me. We have so much to catch up on!" She patted the bed next to her.
Heart pounding, palms sweating, I sat down. I was sitting on a girl's bed, in her room, for the first time. "So how have you been?"
"Oh, I've been great! I just wish I could have gone to junior high and high school with ya, but my mom decided to home school me up until my first year of high school."
"I see. Where do you go now? I've never seen you at Kashima. I'd notice if you did," I replied, sliding a small compliment into my statement.
Yuki blushed. "Glob, don't make me blush, Asuta-Kun. I go to Blue Rose Academy."
"That elite private school that's super hard to get into?!" I was astonished at her intelligence level. She was even smarter than I thought. Because money only got you so far at Blue Rose. You had to have brains to match your inheritance to even get considered. Ayuki should apply, really. She would get a full scholarship. "Good going, Yuki-Chan! You're really smart, huh?"
"Oh, I don't know about that..." Yuki's face reddened. "I like Blue Rose, but I would have much preferred to go to Kashima."
I was thinking that I had found the ultimate girl: smart, rich, cute, modest... Her only flaw seemed to be that she was a little clumsy. I had seen her lose her footing a little on the stairs. Luckily, she had regained it before she tripped. I casually snuck a glance at her legs. She was wearing rather baggy shorts, and I could see the evidence of recent falls on her legs. It seemed like Yuki got banged up a lot.
Yuki must have noticed where I was looking, because she touched a large cut on her leg partially covered by a 'Hello Teddy' bandage. "I got this from playing soccer." She moved to another bruise on her leg. "And this one... well, let's just say I got into a fight with with the stairs... I don't think I won," She laughed. Yuki moved on to tell me about her other 'battle scars,' most of them involving fights with inanimate objects.
"You have to be more careful," I told her. I wanted to get back to the subject of Kashima. Maybe I could get her to transfer there if she wanted to be there. "Uhm, about Kashima... why do you want to go there instead?"
"Why?" Yuki looked a little embarrassed. "Alright, don't laugh. It's a little embarrassing." She began after I promised not to laugh. "It's because of the people. Most of my best friends went there after elementary school. I mean, I've made new friends at Blue Rose, but I would have liked to keep in touch with them. Ya know? Like you, for example."
"Me? I don't see what's so special about me..."
"Well, to be honest, Asuta-Kun..." Yuki's face was the reddest I had ever seen it. "I had this big crush on you when we were kids. And sitting with you here now... It reminds me why.I was never so comfortable talking to anyone else. You make me feel at ease."
Now it was my turn to blush. I was in a cute girl's room, and she was telling me she had a crush on me. I don't think I could have dreamed it any better. "Ah... To be honest, Yuki-Chan... I felt the same way. I had a big crush on you then, too." There. I said it. Come whatever consequences there may be for it.
It was at that moment that Yuki-Chan's mother decided to pop in with her cookies. Talk about bad timing. "Here you too, go. Pretend I'm not here, okay?" She sat the platter of cookies down between us on the bed. "Sorry! I'll let you two continue catching up. Asuta, you may stay for dinner, if you like."
"Sure." She left us to our conversation again.
Yuki took a cookie from the plate, and put it in her mouth. She chewed a minute before saying, "Really, Asuta-Kun? You liked me?"
"Well, of course I did." I took a cookie for myself. They smelled delicious. chocolate chip. Mmm. "Remember that kiss?"
"Of course I remember that kiss. I initiated it." She smiled and took another bite. "I just didn't think you would have. Figured you would have blocked it out."
"Blocked it out? Why would I do that?" I asked.
"I figured you musta been pretty traumatized to have received your first kiss from a boy."
**Author's note: I intended the story to end right here, on a note of suspense. However, I added a final chapter in case some of you are seeking resolution to the story. The way to the end is a little fan-servicy, but nothing you can't overcome with a little reading if you're not into that. So, if you're happy with this, read no further. If you want more, continue on, dear reader... **
-Final Chapter: Resolution-
Boy. Boy. Boy. 'You musta been pretty traumatized to have received your first kiss from a boy.' That... That meant Yuki-Chan was a boy?! That she was really a he and he was Yuki-Kun?! My eyes widened. How could this be? Such a cute girl was really a boy? I looked around her-I mean his- room. There was a Blue Rose boy's uniform draped over his chair, along with some miscellaneous other clothes tucked under the bed. There were signs of this, hidden under the girlish decor, I just completely overlooked them. I struggled to keep quiet. I had the overwhelming urge to scream, "What, you're a boy?!"
And from the look on Yuki's face, I HAD screamed just that.
The shocked look faded from his face and it was slowly replaced by one of sadness. His blue eyes turned watery and were soon on the verge of emotional overflow. He brought his hands up to his face and covered his mouth in an attempt to prevent any of that overflow from leaking out. "I'm so sorry, Asuata-Kun... I thought you knew... I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry..." He sniffled a little, a noise that told me his efforts on trying not to cry were failing.
Great. I had made him cry. NOT what I had intended to do. "Hey, hey, why are you crying?" I asked him, hoping he would look at me. "There's nothing to be sorry about."
Through teary eyes, Yuki looked at me. I could tell he didn't believe me when I said there was nothing to be sorry about. "You like girls. You thought I was a girl and I'm not. I'm a boy. I'm a boy and I stole your first kiss," He sniffed. His face was awash with fresh tears.
Crap, crap, what am I gonna do?! I never meant to say that, never meant to make him cry. "Hey... from what I remember, it was a really good first kiss. You're a good kisser."
Yuki sniffled and laughed a little through the tears. "Really? Haha, thanks." He beamed and wiped his face.
I grabbed a tissue from the box on his desk and handed it to him. He accepted it, then blew his nose a few times. After he was done cleaning himself up, the only sign that he had been crying was the puffiness under his eyes.
"You're welcome." I took another cookie. Half because I was hungry, half to show him that I was still okay being here with him. "I just have one question, if you don't mind."
"Shoot," He said."I think I owe you some answers."
"How come you didn't correct me when I called you 'Yuki-Chan?'"
"I'm not really the manliest man, am I?" He picked at his 'Hello Teddy' bandage. "So the guys at school call me 'Yuki-Chan.' Everyone does, really. So I didn't think I had to correct you."
"That makes sense. Which do you prefer? 'Yuki-Kun' or 'Yuki-Chan?'"
"I don't mind either, really. It's up to you. I'm still the same person, right?" He beamed again. "You can even just leave it at 'Yuki.'"
I continued to talk to Yuki-Kun for the about half an hour, catching up on old times, laughing at jokes, creating new memories. He was a great guy and a talented artist to boot. I would have to challenge him to a soccer match, eventually. However, as much as I wanted to stay and chat some more (and stay for dinner, his mom's food smelled great) I had to leave. My friends were waiting (probably angrily) for me outside.
"I'm sorry, Yuki-Kun, I'm going to have to get going," I said, standing up.
"Aww, why? Dinner's almost ready."
"I know, and it smells great, but I have some friends who are waiting for me to get back to them. And I've already kept them waiting too long."
"Okay." Yuki stood up, too. "I have to give you something for coming all this way. I know you came here hoping to reconnect with an old girlfriend... and you found me instead. Probably not what you expected, or wanted. But, um... do you want another first kiss?"
Before I could really wrap my head around what he was asking, Yuki leaned in and kissed me. If I weren't too shocked, I may have actually enjoyed it, because it was a kiss that you only read about in trashy romance novels. It was the kind of kiss that left my lips tingly and my heart pounding. I was even a little dizzy when he pulled away. I'd never really felt something like that before. His lips were so warm and so soft... with just enough pressure to be intense, but yeilding, too. I touched my lips after, still feeling the presence of his there.
"Well," Yuki said, giving me a friendly pat on the back like nothing had ever happened, "I'll let you get back to your friends now. I won't tell anyone about our second first kiss. But you have to stop by again, okay? Don't be a stranger."
"O-okay," I replied, heading downstairs. My brain hadn't yet caught up with the turn of events. My stomach was definitely regretting my decision to go; I could smell Yuki's mother's food in the kitchen.
"I hope you find yourself a really nice girlfriend," Yuki called.
I left Yuki's house after promising to visit again. I went to look for my friends, who were supposed to be nearby. However, they were nowhere to be found. They had gotten tired of waiting. I walked around the block, letting my stomach decide where to look for them first. I found a little ramen shop not too far away. It really clashed with the 'upscale' feel of this neighborhood, but I figured, everyone loves ramen. No matter how rich and trendy you are. I opened the door to the shop and went inside. I would begin my search for my friends here, and the first place I was going to start looking was in a delicious bowl of ramen.
I looked up, in the direction of the voice. A little farther back in the shop, at one of the tables, waited my friends. Hazumu waved me over. Once I sat down, the questions began. "Hey, how'd it go?"
Ayuki was quick to provide Hazumu an answer for me. "That's not the face of a guy who just got a girlfriend."
I nodded. "You're right, but it's a really long story," I replied, and left it at that.
"Aww, please tell us," Hazumu begged.
"Yes, I too, would be interested in the tale of your romantic excursion," Sora-Sensei chimed in, popping up out of nowhere. I really had to learn how he did that.
"Alright... I'll tell you," I began, "..over a bowl of ramen. I'm starving!"
Bowl of ramen in front of me, I told my friends the story of what happened with Yuki. Leaving out the kissing part, of course.
"Aww, sorry Asuta," Hazumu sympathized.
Tomari was beside herself with laughter. Most of the group was-save for Yasuna-Chan. She politely covered her mouth with her fingertips, holding in a snicker.
"Hey, that's not funny, guys! I was tricked!"
In case you're wondering, I did exchange emails with Yuki-Kun. The experience wasn't all bad, after all. I had reconnected with an old friend. A friend, I found out, who could kick my butt at soccer.
Walking home one day, my cellphone went off. I pulled it out of my pocket, and it was a picture-message from Yuki-Kun. I opened it up to find a picture of him holding hands with another boy at Blue caption below the picture said, 'This is my boyfriend, Soichro, that I was telling you about. He's the cutest, right? I look forward to hearing from you. Send me a picture of your girlfriend, okay? I want to see what she looks like.'
I looked at my phone, thinking that the boy in the picture looked a little like me. "Sure, Yuki-Kun. I'll send you a picture." I got my phone ready to do so. "Except that... I'm still single."