Disclaimer: I do not own the Tokimeki Memorial series. Apparently stars aren't all that sympathetic to wishes.
a/n: Shiba/Daisy. A little AU; basically a bit of a one-sided Shiba love thing. If it's confusing, I'm sorry. I'll try to clear it up if anyone asks.
One day, he wakes up with a feeling.
Work isn't as satisfying as he was led to believe it would be. He's never been one for an office, and working in the law doesn't seem like the worth-while, decent sort of job that he'd been told it would be. He can't talk to clients properly.
He tells Tatsuko about it after the idea persists for over a month. He wants it to go something like: I don't think I'm cut out for this. What makes you think that? I'm not sure. You don't have to stay in it if you don't like it. We should move. To America? Yeah. And watch baseball all day.
'I hate the law.'
'No you don't.'
'No, you hate your job. I think you rather like law – you're always reading those massive tomes…'
She has a point, but he doesn't really want to talk more about it – he wants to move to Hawaii and go surfing everyday and watch recorded games of baseball at night.
'I hate my job?' he says instead, because he's action man.
'Don't you? I hate your boss. He's got to be the most annoying, uppity bastard I've ever seen…'
Tatsuko has always hated his boss. He's starting to realise this was really not a great topic to bring up.
'Maybe. What do you want for dinner?'
She looks up from her magazine and beams at him. He feels odd – he should be feeling happy, he thinks, distantly. He should know what she wants for dinner.
'I trust you,' she says, and motions him closer.
He forgets to bring a file to work. Himuro gives him one of those looks that makes Tatsuko hate him, and the rest of the office give him sympathetic looks which make him wonder which type he prefers.
He knows the contents of the file by heart anyway, and everything goes ok. He can manage everything. He's still bringing in clients, and still meeting deadlines. It's fine.
There are a couple of calls from Motoharu when he gets home, and one from Tatsuko telling him she'll be working late – which really means she's pulling an all-nighter, and he should bring her a change of clothes tomorrow.
There's a note, too, scrawled in Tatsuko's rough hand, and he has to stare at it for a few seconds before any of it makes sense.
He doesn't bother to phone any of them back. He figures it's a good time to focus on work; when he sees Tatsuko tomorrow they can just go out after work and forget about their jobs, Motoharu would have badgered him about procrastinating anyway, and Saeki – well, he can come up with an excuse as to why he didn't call Saeki later.
Besides, it's not as if work is particularly bad today. Today, he doesn't need to read through pages of descriptions of abuse, or backlogs of complaints and appeals. Today, there's just a straight-forward divorce. Irreconcilable differences. She wants the CD collection, half of the money from selling the house, and her car. He wants half of the money from the house, his car and wants her to take the photos. There isn't a whole lot in it. Well, not literally – literally, if he gets her the whole CD collection and out of the photos, he gets a 'donation' of quarter of a million dollars for the firm. He's pretty sure he can do that.
They must have thought he needed a break. He feels slightly bad for Himuro and the unjustified level of hatred Tatsuko harbours for him.
The phone goes just as he finishes the tiny amount of real work involved. It isn't Tatsuko, because she's already given her message, and he highly doubts something life-threatening has transpired in the four hours since then. However, he's watched just enough movies to wonder.
He answers it.
'Katsumi, hey, long time no see.'
It's not that his breath hitches, because that's used too often to refer to some sort of good surprise. It's more… he simply stops breathing. A chill runs through him. He remembers to breathe. It can't take as long as it feels, because Saeki hasn't said anything else, and if it had taken more than five seconds, Saeki would have said something.
Talking has never been his strong point. Talking to Saeki has never had a point.
'How are things? Heard you're going to London next month.'
'Just a couple of days.' He curses his lack of conversational skills.
Saeki isn't a mood-maker, unless he's being fake. He isn't sure whether to be grateful or not for the total lack of an attempt in that direction.
'Right. Been before?' 'Once or twice.'
There's a brief pause.
'I was thinking we should catch up sometime.'
Translation: I want to rant about something.
'I'm getting married.'
Suddenly, he wants to vomit. He can't have this conversation.
He doesn't bother to think about how Saeki will take it: he slams the phone down. He'll make up an excuse later. Right now, he just needs to vomit.
The phone rings almost instantly.
It isn't a pretty sight. He hasn't eaten enough, and his vomit is just empty – all he can think is just like my life. The phone is ringing insistently in the background. He slumps to the floor after a few seconds and stares at the ceiling. He should paint it. Yellow is simply not a good colour for a bathroom. At least, not one that looks like something out of a hotel suite.
He should eat something. It might make him feel better. He feels like… chocolate.
He doesn't sleep.
It's ok; he's used to it.
He'll call Saeki in the morning; say his phone cut out on him.
Actually, that's something he should do. Unplug the line.
He'll call Tatsuko and tell her about it and she'll beam and demand he take her dress shopping. He'll call Motoharu and ask if he knows.
And whoever the bride is, he'll nod and smile and say, 'Congratulations.' Or maybe not. Why bother nodding and smiling over the phone?
Just one thing is hard enough.
In the morning, he does. Call.
It doesn't connect. It's not his fault if it doesn't connect, is it? By the time he's dressed and finished breakfast, it's time to go to work. It's not his fault that he doesn't get another chance to call.
He doesn't bother to call Tatsuko. He just asks for an extended lunch, which Himuro grants with a raised eyebrow, and drives over. He pretends he doesn't understand what the eyebrow means. Tatsuko is slightly puzzled, but she doesn't mention it, and laughs and plants a kiss on his cheek when he gives her a grin and her favourite sushi. She looks a bit dumbfounded when she takes the change of clothes out of the bag.
It's a white dress, halter-neck and form fitting, and far too dressy for work.
She gives him a confused smile, and says, not unhappily, 'Are we going somewhere?'
His jaw clenches. He needs to say something.
'Saeki's getting married.'
Motoharu gets the futon out as soon as he sees him.
They don't talk for a long time, which would strike him as odd if he were thinking clearly, but he isn't, so it doesn't.
Finally, 'Are you going to go?'
He should look up; look him in the eyes to answer that. He doesn't.
So it is her.
Motoharu gives up a while later, and makes some sort of bitter, strange smelling tea. It's nice, and he thinks it smells like jonquils and cinnamon, but he's never really had a good sense of smell, so he doesn't share the thought.
'I'm going to quit my job.'
Motoharu splutters on his tea.
'Are you sure that's a good idea?'
'…Do me a favour, ok? Just wait until this is all over with, then see if you still feel the same, yeah? Give it a week.'
He stares at the steam drifting from his cup. 'Ok.'
Instead of quitting, he takes his annual leave. It's nearly his birthday anyway. He doesn't need an excuse this time.
While Motoharu works, he walks through the rapidly cooling city and stares off into space like a lovesick student. He thinks about whether or not to call Saeki, because by now he'd know something was up courtesy of the grapevine, but decides against it. If he says anything to Saeki, he'll probably curse himself later and come to the increasingly inescapable conclusion that life sucks.
He's prepared to admit now that he's depressed. He doesn't want to become suicidal.
It's in five days. He probably couldn't attend now even if he wanted to.
He doesn't want to.
He should probably eat something.
He loves her.
He doesn't love her.
He loves her.
…So he does.
And apparently, he's reverted to the mentality of a five year old.
He's not counting hours.
He just happens to know there are a hundred and one to go.
He should probably call Saeki.
Once, when he still had two good legs and a posture that made him look about twice as tall as he actually was, he had been under the impression that things would sort themselves out, and that love was actually a selfless feeling. He'd been slightly jaded, but no more than the average teen, and he'd been able to get by with a relatively relaxed approach to all aspects of life. He'd been failing in most of his subjects, but he'd been happy.
And then he met her.
Daisy Daidouji was almost everything he'd never met before. She had bright red hair – dyed, but from blonde, according to her roots – average sized brown eyes and skin that tended to forgo makeup in favour of straight sunscreen. She was a serial smiler – it wasn't hard to bet on the frequency of a flash of teeth – and also slightly fashioned challenged and entirely obsessed with all things everywhere.
They'd met when she'd mistaken him for a player of the baseball team, and after that, he hadn't been able to escape her. They seemed to run into each other after classes everyday, which was virtually impossible – he learnt for a fact that her classes were usually around the other side of the school. Whenever he'd check on the field (any time of the day) she'd be out there. He would study randomly for one day a month in the library, and she'd just happen to be around the corner.
They started dating in March, nine months after he first met her.
A year later, they broke up.
The day after, she started dating Saeki Teru.
Three days before the wedding, Saeki calls him.
He isn't sure why it surprises him so much; after all, Saeki called him first to tell him about it, why wouldn't he call back, rather than just wait for Shiba to call back? He didn't the first time, why would the second time be different?
He doesn't have the faintest idea of what to say, so he says nothing and waits.
'Knowing you, you're not going to talk, so I'm just going to say it. You're welcome to come. I'm pretty sure Motoharu's coming, and I know you can catch a ride with him. If you don't want to come, it's ok. We won't take it personally.'
It's something more suited to say to an answering machine than to a person, but he gets the message, and he knows Saeki doesn't really care about how it could come across to other people. As long as he understands.
He thinks bitingly, what if I want you to take it personally?
When Motoharu comes back, he says, 'Can I get a ride?'
He knows he means it, too.
The next two days, he doesn't do anything, except think about what he should be eating and how much he should be sleeping and all of the things that people should do when they're depressed to keep themselves out of a routine of nothing, while doing none of them.
Motoharu has gone around to his place, apparently, because he has most of his clothes, and there's even a selection of suits. Motoharu has picked out a classic black one with a snappy bowtie, and keeps propelling him toward a similar ensemble. He's always hated ties though; instead, he picks a matching pair of trousers and a matching black jacket, and, although he just wants his black exercise shirt, he lets Motoharu switch it for a white dress shirt. He's able to get out of cufflinks, and then everything's good to go, and he almost forgets he doesn't have a wedding gift.
Somehow, Motoharu's assurances don't do much to assuage his doubts.
'Oh, don't worry. I just got them a trip to Australia for two weeks. You don't need to get them anything big.'
'…I should get them something.'
They arrive just in time and almost as soon as they grab two empty seats at the back some guy he doesn't completely recognise is giving a speech he can't quite hear. He must tune out for a moment, because suddenly Saeki is there, looking strange without long hair and hanging his mouth around his ears.
Then music starts, and he has a feeling everything is going too quickly.
Everything is going too quickly.
She looks so different.
Her hair isn't red anymore, instead a honey colour that makes her look unearthly coupled with the white ensemble, and her eyes are glittering. She's taller than he remembers; she might reach his mouth now, instead of the middle of his neck. She's still pale, maybe paler. Probably still the same number of shades lighter than he is. Her neck looks so long.
She looks so… happy.
He doesn't hear any of the ceremony. He's too busy staring at the woman who turned his life upside-down.
It's so fast he doesn't register exactly when the reception starts, despite having to go to a different location. As soon as he steps out of the car Saeki is there, staring at him disbelievingly and then hugging him with a warmth he feels guilty about.
'Katsumi! You came!' He shakes his head grinning, and grins some more. He exchanges a brief nod with Motoharu and then turns back, his expression melting into something entirely unfamiliar, half-way between crying and grinning and shock.
The guilt intensifies.
'You look great. God, it's been so long.' He sighs, as if they're old men with an enormous amount of catching up to do, and Shiba suddenly realises in that moment that Saeki really did miss him.
He suddenly feels like crying.
His breath hitches.
He doesn't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, or if he should be saying something or doing something, or turning around or still talking to Saeki. He settles on nothing.
And then she's there, in front of him, looking positively ethereal.
'Katsumi,' she says again, and smiles.
His mouth is too dry. He can feel Motoharu willing him into action with a look, but his mind refuses to respond. He must look stricken. He can feel his whole body is completely rigid, and he can't tear his eyes away from her.
'Con… Congratulations,' he breathes, and she tilts her head, still smiling. 'Sorry?' she says, her nose crinkling slightly, like it used to whenever she found something funny.
'Congratulations,' he says again, this time at a normal volume, and she grins, then abruptly hugs him.
She smells the same. Her hair is longer, but it feels just as soft when it touches his fingers as he reaches around her. She's flush against him, as she always is when she hugs, and his chest throbs with pain. He closes his eyes and tightens his arms around her, willing the moment to never end.
Then she pulls away and gives him a smile so melancholy he can't look at her.
'Thank you,' she says, taking his hand, and then walking over to Saeki.
He blinks once, twice, and realises now he really is crying.
a/n: I realised I had a typo and I can't seem to get the formatting right... Please let me know if you spot anything! (Apart from the disjointed-ness, it's kinda how I'm writing right now.) Also, because I don't know if I can reply to reviews or not...
Clementine: Thank you for your generous review! I'm glad you liked it, and I hope I can continue to write stories you might like :)