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Author Topic: Love x 2 (the entire series) [easy navigation on 1st page] Complete  (Read 44194 times)

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #20 on: May 24, 2007, 01:20:54 AM »
Chapter 15 of 16

"Are you busy?"

Her hand twitches on the door as if she wants to simply shut it without saying a word to me.  Her mother, I guess, raised her a little too well to do that to a visitor at the door.

"Yes," she replies.

I listen hard.  Maybe she has someone over and they're watching TV, in which case this would indeed be a very bad time.  I let my eyes wander over her shoulder where I can see the couch.  Nobody's sitting there.  The TV is playing commercials.

"Watching something good?" I ask conversationally.

I'm so nervous that I forget that I'm not here to chat but to talk seriously.  She frowns.

"What do you want?" she asks none too politely.

I finally snap back into my mission mode and pull out my offensive card right away.

"I need to talk to you because it's very unfair how I haven't had a chance to explain anything," I say with controlled force.  "I know that I was supposed to say brilliant things to convince you to let me have a chance, but I really have nothing.  I'm not a brilliant person when it comes to matters of you, so you're going to have to put up with that.  Right now I want five minutes.  If you have no interest after that, you can kick me out - literally if you want - and I'll never ever bother you again for your entire life."

I've figured out the key to dealing with her.  It's to act like I'm in control.  I know that she holds me up above a lot of things in the world and she appreciates and even seeks my approval in everything she does.  I'm hoping that despite her loss of trust in me, at least she'll still feel like I'm some sort of power to be reckoned with.  Or maybe she'll just be scared into listening to me.  As horrible as that is, I'm at the point where I don't care.  I'll do anything to get her to listen.

Luckily, I don't have to resort to threatening.  She opens the door slightly to indicate it's okay for me to come in.  I excuse myself and walk in, removing my shoes and standing at the front entrance.  She moves further into her apartment and stands there, making no move to offer me a seat or a drink or any other sort of host-ly thing, but at least her air conditioning is on.  I look behind her and see a documentary on koalas come back on after the commercials.  Despite my situation, I feel like laughing.  There's another one of those things about her that makes me giggle from the bottom of my belly. 

"So talk," she says, and I don't feel like giggling anymore.

I'm on a time limit.  I have to focus.

"Miki, I lied to you," I start with a punch, "but only once.  Only about one thing.  Nothing else.  Ever."

I examine her face.  It hasn't changed.

"And I did it because I didn't want to cause you any concern or pain.  I didn't know how to tell you what I was thinking."

Her face remains the same.

"I wasn't exaggerating when I told you I feel insecure around you.  You put me up on this pedestal that I can't possibly get down from, so I try to be perfect in order not to disappoint you," I admit to her angrily.  "I'm afraid to be less than that because then you'd see through me and stop liking what you see."

"That's absurd, Aya.  You don't have to act perfect.  To me you're just as good when you mess up as when you're faultless," Miki growls.

"Then why are you so angry at me if you know I'm not perfect?" I demand.  "Why is it that I make one mistake - I withhold some information from you - and suddenly I'm a monster?"

"I told you already before.  You stopped trusting me.  It wasn't just that you didn't tell me you wanted to leave H!P."

I look down at the floor guiltily.

"That's not really how I meant to come off sounding..."

"Yeah?  Well you did," she states firmly.

"It's not what I meant," I repeat.

"Is this going to go around in circles?  'Cause we could stay here all night and argue back and forth like this, but it's not going to fix anything," she says harshly.  I know she's right.

"So what will?  What will fix everything?  If I tell you that you can trust me without a single doubt, will it make things better?  If I tell you that I'll never keep something like that from you again, will you stop hating me?  If I tell you what I've told you before - that you mean so much to me - will it all be okay?  Will you believe me?" I demand, the feeling of hopefulness overflowing my body.

I know she probably has some witty and hurtful comment lined up for me, but I may as well try. 

Actually, right now she looks like she's torn between two things.  It's interesting, and if I was watching this on TV, I'd analyse her facial expressions to give me a clue as to what she might say next.  Unfortunately, this is real life and it's speeding by much too quickly.  I can hardly think this fast.

"Don't ask me something like that," she says in an unstable, quiet voice.

This catches me a little off guard because I thought for sure she'd say "no way".

"Why not?" I ask.

"Just don't," she says through grit teeth.

"Miki, why not?  I want to know," I press her.

"I think you should go," she says hurriedly.

I'm about to protest, but it's true.  My five minutes are up. 

"Well, thanks for listening to that much." 

I feel defeated as I back away and head to the door.  Oddly enough, she follows me.  I slip my shoes on and pause at the doorway, my hand on the doorknob. 

I turn around.  I can't resist because this is Miki, not just any person.  This might be my last chance to salvage whatever little bit of friendship that remains between us.  I will hate myself if I don't hold on with my entire force.

"Just tell me why.  Please," I beg.

"Because I don't hate you," she rasps out looking like she's unable to bear my questioning anymore.  "And because if you say those things to me, I have no choice but to believe you." 

She really could have fooled me.  Her story is changing by the minute.  Why is it that she makes no sense to me?  I know that she's a more complicated person than what she offers on the surface, and I've been able to figure out a lot of what's going on in her mind, but still... She's a mystery.  She's still a mystery even when she's told me everything on her mind.

"I don't understand," I speak slowly.  "Then why did you say those things to me the other day?  Why did you insult my entire character if you don't hate me?  Why are you so quick to change your mind?"

I realise that asking her too many questions like that may be too forceful and she might shut off and get very angry and kick me out, but I have to know.

She doesn't speak for about a minute and I decide not to push it any further.

"I didn't..." she starts and then takes a breath, "I didn't mean them."

I can't say I'm not relieved to hear that.  Now I want to know why.

"You made me say them."

This makes my jaw drop.  There's no way I'd ever try to get her to attack me like that.  She must be hallucinating.

"I don't see-" I start, but she cuts me off as if I'm not even in the room.

"Aya, I love you more than air or water or whatever.  More than myself.  I don't want to tell you that too much because it's weird and creepy and you can't possibly feel the same way even if you say you do.  So when you hurt me, it's like I die.  I don't like dying."

She speaks weakly, sadly, dejectedly.  She can't look at me.

"I said those things because I wanted to hate you.  I thought by saying them, I could believe them.  And maybe you'd hate me for talking to you like that.  Then it would be easier to learn to hate you.  Then if I hated you, I wouldn't care so much if you hurt me."

I stand there, my mouth agape, feeling sick.

"And then I thought that I'd no longer have to cut off or at least suppress any part of me that you didn't like or that wasn't useful."

How can she say these things?  Speaking about herself like that is almost worse than her accusing me of lying about everything. 

"I don't hate any part of you," I say quickly before she can continue with her self-deprecating speech.  "All your personalities, all your sides, are what make you you.  And... I like you," I finish lamely.

"I don't see how you can," she mumbles.

This is the mystery that is Miki.  One minute she's raving mad, the next she's about to cry.

I grab the front of her shirt and pull her towards me, facing her squarely.

"Even that stupid part of you that makes you say dumb things like that... Even that part I like."

"That's the part I can't stand," she says, shying away from me.

I know that already.  She told me already.  Kobe.  I don't loosen my hold.

"I say things at bad times and ruin things.  I can't control it.  I'm unreliable."

That's it.  That's why she acts the way she does.  She doesn't trust herself.  She doesn't like herself enough.  How can she trust me completely if she can't trust herself?  How can she even begin to think of loving someone else when she still has to learn to love herself? The thing is, she doesn't even realise this, so of course she hasn't been able to tell me.

"Then you should learn to trust and like yourself before trying to trust me," I tell her honestly and softly so that she doesn't think I'm mocking her.

She looks at me curiously, taking in my words.  I can almost see them floating in her head as she tries to make sense of them.  She opens her mouth to do what looks like complain, but then she closes it again and looks pensive for another moment. 

"I trust myself," she says.

I shake my head slowly.

"I don't think you do..."

She looks at me helplessly, desperately.  It's like she's finally realising the cause of her anxieties and insecurities. 

I let go of her shirt.  I've been holding it this whole time.  My palm is sweaty and my whole hand cramped.

"I know that you haven't always been like this," I continue.

It's starting to dawn on me just how much good but also how much damage H!P has done to Miki.

"You've been messed around with for the past few years.  You lost an audition, and then you won a highly coveted space in the Project."

She listens to me and I can see the memories playing out in her mind…

"And then you were the hottest star, well on your way to becoming the next... um, me," I blush and she allows herself a playful roll of the eyes, "and then suddenly you were dropped and put into a group where your presence and your talent were both diluted."

"Yeah, but-"

"The thing is," I carry on, "is that while you say it doesn't bother you anymore, it has affected you.  You like being in Morning Musume, right?"

"Well, yeah," she replies.

"But you weren't so hot about the idea at first, right?"

"True."

"But now that you've gotten used to it and begun to enjoy it, it's like you've been tamed.  Like you've been finally convinced that you weren't good enough and that's why the executives of the company decided to change your position."

It's harsh, but it has to be said.  She swallows hard and stares right into my eyes, not blinking once.  I don't see any tears forming, but who knows.  Who knows...

"Do you really believe that?  Do you believe that you're not good enough?  Do you let it get to you whenever you say or do or decide things?  Do you question every move you make because some people didn't need another soloist in their company a few years ago?"

Absolute silence.  She's either going to cry, kick me out, or kill me on the spot.  Of course none of those things happen because she works in mysterious ways.

"Yes."

I'm the one who almost starts crying.  It can't possibly be fair that the company that made her dream come true also stripped away her confidence in herself.  Never have I wanted to leave H!P as much as I do now.  I want to take her with me.

"Don't," I say angrily.  "Don't let them convince you that you're anything less than outstanding."

"But maybe it..."

"Miki," I groan, clenching my fists, "what happened to that overconfident, funny, stubborn soloist that I met?  Was she defeated by a change of situation?"

"No," she says defensively.  "I just... I don't know.  I don't think about it."

"You should start.  If you don't believe in yourself, as stupid and cheesy as that sounds, then you can't believe in other people.  Not properly, at least.  It's fake.  And if you don't like yourself, then you can't like others properly."

I realise that Shibata has been to me what I am being to Miki- someone giving deep advice that might hurt in its delivery, but goes a long way in helping.

"I'm sorry," she says quietly, eyes downcast.

"Don't apologise to me for it.  Just be-"

"No, not about that.  I mean for yelling at you last week and... saying those things and just being... really rude to you."

How can my heart not melt at that?  How can I not want to hug her?  I refrain from doing anything, though, because I'm still unsure about this whole thing.

"Just promise me that you'll try and let the past be the past and learn to trust yourself."

Slowly, her face relaxes.  She seems to lose some of the tension she's carrying on her shoulders and she looks at me.  She looks... relieved?  Grateful?

"It might take some time."

I reach out a hand to touch her hair.  She doesn't flinch, so I assume it's all right.

"You have plenty of that," I reassure her. 

"Not really," she mumbles.  "Life's too short."

"Mmm.  Maybe.  But there's no sense rushing through it and messing up everything when you can take it slow and get everything right."

Talk about metaphorical language.  Right now, "life" and "our relationship" seem to be synonymous with one another.

She smiles a little at that.  It's not too big of a smile, but it warms my heart because it's the first time in a while that I've seen her look genuinely happy.

Which makes what I'm going to do even harder.

I let my hand run its course through her hair, bringing it down her cheek and then down to her shoulder where it rests. 

It's the last touch of its kind.  I paint the memory of it on the ceiling of my mind - my own private temple that nobody but I can enter.  It's a place of worship where I cherish people and events.  A large part of that place is dedicated to Miki.  She's earned the space.

I lean forward and kiss her cheek like a friend would do during a close moment, and I let go of her completely.  She looks a little perplexed.  I think she can sense the finality in my actions, but she's wondering why it's there.  I wink and smirk at her to let her know I'm still here and not going anywhere.  I'm just giving her room to breathe.  Some time to think.  Nothing is ending.  Life always continues.  Situations change, but we're first and foremost best friends.  That seems like it can never change.

I feel like I should say something to let her know what I've decided.  I'm not sure what, but maybe I can come up with something spectacular.  I think for a bit and come up with nothing.  Shrugging in my mind, I decide to go with simple.  Nothing too deep.

"Best friends, right?" I ask brightly.   

She looks confused, then sad, and then... she looks understanding.  She realises what I'm talking about.  She understands that taking time is important.  She understands that we shouldn't be too rash.  She has to learn to do some things before she can give herself up entirely to someone else.  I, too, have a lot to learn about myself before I can do that.

"Yeah."
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 08:36:47 AM by OTN1 »

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2007, 01:21:39 AM »
Chapter 16 of 16

About a month later, we take that trip to Hokkaido we talked about before. 

After initially putting a Band-Aid over the situation, I leave Miki to continue watching the koala documentary she was watching before I got there.  It's late and I need to get to bed.  My own bed. 

The next morning I wake up regretting what I've done.  I wish I'd stayed over at Miki's.  I wish I'd told her I wanted more starting that night.  That I didn't want to put anything on pause. 

I mentally slap myself silly.  How selfish and unfair of me to regret what was probably a good decision made based on what's best for her.  What's best for me, too.  I decide then to forget about it all.  As long as we're friends.

Shiba-chan calls me the next day and asks how things are.  I tell her Miki and I have solved our problems.  She's relieved to hear that.  I don't share any more information.  She doesn't ask anything out of the ordinary.  Maybe she really doesn't know anything about the true nature of me and Miki.  It doesn't matter, though.  I'm not about to tell her the details of what happened.  Not yet anyway.

I come to the decision not to leave H!P.  I realise that my initial thoughts on the matter were right.  The thoughts I had after that magazine interview in Yamanashi the day after my birthday.  I have improved a great deal, and I do have enough talent to leave H!P, but I could do some more growing up.  Sure, there are other singers younger than me who are battling it out on their own in the harsh world of entertainment, but I want to get things right, and so I decide not be a hypocrite.  I take my own advice- take things slow so that they don't get messed up.

A few days after, I have a long talk with Miki.  I explain everything about my situation to her.  She listens and offers me kind words or advice wherever she can.

Once I'm finished telling her everything, I visit Shiba-chan and tell her my decision.  She's elated.  She tells me she knew I'd make the right decision.  I asked her what she would have said if I'd told her I was going to leave the Project.

"If you said it with the same conviction with which you just told me your final decision, then I would have replied in the same way."

That's Shibata for you.  You've got to love a girl who is so... I don't even know how to describe it.  But I love it and her!  I give her a giant hug, thank her, and tell her never to make me think that much again (which is a joke, of course).

The next month passes by so quickly.  I don't see Miki much because we're both insanely busy with touring and filming.  We keep in constant touch, though, and we repair the foundations we've ruined.  Things aren't that awkward between us, but sometimes there's something that nags at my mind when I talk to her or see her.  I guess I can't forget our venture into the land that lies beyond friendship.


We're in our hotel room in Sapporo.  We have two double beds (the room came that way) and we're sitting on mine playing cards.  We've been playing for about two hours since we got in this evening, but both of us are determined to win.  We've lost track of time.  Shopping bags are piled on the floor below us, evidence of how much money we have spent on this trip so far.  It's only been one day.  We arrived last night very late and fell asleep almost immediately upon reaching the room.  We shopped all day today, and we'll be staying here for one additional day and night.

"You cheater!!! Cheat cheat cheat!!!" Miki squeals at me as I try to pass off a jack and a king as a pair of threes.

I groan and take the whole pile that has accumulated.  We're playing cheat, but we've left out randomly selected cards to make it interesting, otherwise it doesn't work with two people.  I try and organise the cards, but there are simply too many.  I grow frustrated and throw them on the bed.

"Forget it.  I don't want to play anymore," I sulk.

"Typical you," Miki snorts.

I glower at her and then we both laugh.  Thankfully, some things will never change with us.

"Hey, you hungry?  I'm starving," I say.

My stomach feels like it's going to collapse.  Miki nods and tells me she's hungry, too, so I pull out the menu for room service.  As I study it, Miki reads over my shoulder, and I'm very aware of her presence.  Some of her hair is touching my arm, and I feel strange.  Stranger than usual.  She shifts her weight and her shoulder brushes against mine, her leg touches mine.  I feel pleasantly dizzy.

It's not like we haven't touched before this past while.  We've even hugged each other a few times.  I just shouldn't be feeling something that there's no point in feeling.  We haven't talked about becoming anything beyond friends again.  I've left it up to her to decide whether to bring it up or not.  She's the one who has to deal through more, I think.

I cough, clear my throat, and turn the page.

"Are you getting sick?" she asks me immediately.

"Huh?  Oh, no.  Just coughing."

We continue to read the menu.  I hope she can't hear my heart pounding because it just started racing.  I get up abruptly, slamming the menu shut.

"Okay, I know what I'm getting," I say quickly as I head for the phone.

"W-wait a minute, Aya-chan.  I haven't decided."

Miki scrambles up and grabs the menu from me.  Her fingers almost touch mine.

Ugg.  Why am I feeling this again all of a sudden?

She flips through quickly.

"Okay, I'm ready.  I'll point, you talk."

I wonder how hard it would be for her to just tell me what dish she wants.  I mutter an "okay" and I pick up the phone, dialling the front desk.  Miki stands very close to me as I do this.  I order my spaghetti and then read out what Miki's pointing to.  An appetiser.  An expensive one.  She then points to something else.  I read it out to the woman taking my order.  She's about to ask if I want anything else when Miki points to another dish.  I cover the mouth of the phone.

"Did you change your mind?" I whisper.

"No.  I want that, too," she says.

I frown but uncover the phone and continue the order.  Before I'm finished speaking, Miki points to another dish, so I order it.  She chooses one more, I order it, and then it's done.  I hang up.

"You realise that's going to take, like, over an hour to bring all that stuff, right?  She said an hour and a half at the most," I state angrily.

She looks at me and then looks away, fidgeting.

"I'm starving," I whine.

"I have some candy in my bag," Miki offers.

She gets up and takes out a handful of mints from her bag and offers them to me.  I grab one from her hand and eat it without thanking her, glaring at her the whole time.  She scratches her neck.

"I'm sorry.  I just have a big appetite now," she says in what has to be the most unconvincing voice ever.

I don't know what's up with her or what kind of trick she's trying to play by ordering more food than she can possibly eat, but now I'm cranky because I'm hungry.

"Whatever.  The only thing that's going to make me feel better now is kicking your ass at a game of President," I glower.

I go and sit on the bed and start distributing the cards.  She nervously joins me and we start to play.  I lose some of my flare after a few rounds, and I keep looking at her when she's inspecting her cards.

I've never wanted her so much before in my life. 

No sense in denying it.  I don't know if it's because we're alone and far away from our lives in Tokyo, staying in a hotel room together, or if it's because we're both sitting on a bed, or if it's because we've had such a wonderful day.  Something in me feels empty, and I begin to miss what I so carelessly took for granted before.  I've been missing it, but repressing it, for a month.  However, now it has really gotten to me.  I feel like we've reached an impasse and that one of us has to jump up and revive our lives by doing something crazy and unexpected.  I really want to, but then I don't want to force anything or confuse anyone.

It's so strange, though, because I've never felt this strongly about having to do something before.  I've never felt so right about it.  I've never felt so lost, either.

"Hey, Aya-chan," Miki says quietly, interrupting my reverie.

"Mmhmm?" I ask, blinking and refocusing my eyes on her.

I've been staring at her without realising it.

"You know I ordered a lot of food, right?"

I remember my hunger and my anger.

"Yes."

"And you know it's going to take over an hour, right?"

"Yes."

"So, uh, why don't we take a bath before that?"

If I believed in spontaneous human combustion, I'd believe it if someone told me I was about to explode into flames.  I think my eyes go out of focus again and I vaguely remember the cards spilling out of my hands slowly as she gets up on her knees and crawls over to me.  She takes my hand in hers and takes me to the bathroom.  We haven't taken a bath together since that week...

I swallow partly in fear, partly in anticipation, partly in, well, whatever.  I push it out of my mind.  She's just being Miki.  This bath thing is practical.  We have the time.  Why waste it on playing cards?  Bath first, then dinner, then more cards, then gossip, and then bedtime.  Separate beds.

"Lucked out with this Jacuzzi," she grins, turning on the water.

The tub starts to fill up and she turns to me.  I'm standing there awkwardly. 

"Do you want to?" she asks.

Do I want to what?  Take a bath?  Kiss her?

Yes, yes.  But which one is she asking?

I nod.  She smiles and takes a hand and touches my face.

"You're warm," she states quietly, a question in her voice.

"I-it's the water," I stutter back, pointing to the tub from which steam is now rising. 

She smiles and takes my other hand again.  I'm scared that maybe her actions don't mean what I want them to mean.  I'm anticipating, however, feeling her hands on me, her lips on me... And I'm excited because she's Miki and nobody else can do wild things to my hormones by just standing there beside me like she does.  My heart speeds up.

One of her hands reaches out and she pokes her finger into my cheek gently.  She pulls it away and shows me something on her finger.

"Eyelash," she says.

I look down.  It certainly is one.  I blow some air at her hand, and the eyelash flutters away to land somewhere on the ground between us.  We pay it no attention.

"Miki-" I start to ask her what she's doing, but she then places her finger against my lips and beckons me to be quiet.

I don't talk and listen as she puts her hands on my shoulders

"I didn't want to say anything last week, or the week before, or the week before that, but I have to tell you now.  There is no way I can ever go back to not thinking about you as the cutest, friendliest, most respectable, most talented, sexiest, hottest, most beautiful and lovable thing in the world," her voice wavers as she speaks honestly from her heart. 

My heart beats even faster than before, and I almost wish this wasn't happening because it's painful to have to feel all of this all over again.  The feeling where you know something big is probably going to happen and you're wondering how it's going to turn out.  A bit like how I feel before a big concert.

"You are my best friend, my closest friend," she takes a breath, "but I like it even better when you're more than that.  I want to know if you like it better, too, and if you do, then I want to know if you don't mind being that again."

I nod slowly at first and then more strongly. She smiles big and bright with happiness that I haven't seen in a while. 

"And I didn't lie that night.  Um, that night when I- uh, I- um, I told you that I always want you no matter what."

I gulp and blush.  I have to say something.

"I didn't tell you before, but when you said that, I thought the same thing.  You know.  About you.  And I haven't really stopped thinking it."

Silence bathes us as she takes her hands off my shoulders and lets them rest by her sides naturally.

"I miss that closeness we had," she says.

I nod hazily.  I miss it, too.

"Aya, I've got to know, though, before anything happens.  Will you be upfront with me and tell me right now what you expect or intend or... Screw it, I don't know.  Just tell me you're not going to shut off from me.  I want you," she says, her eyes grazing over my entire body, "but I want you."

She puts both her hands on my head gently and stares at me with pleading eyes.  I smile calmly and take her hands off my head.

"You have me," I say, putting her hands on my waist, "and you have me."

I lean my forehead against hers.

"Trust me."

She squeezes me and for a minute I think that I'm going to die of happiness or mushiness.  I've never been like this with anyone before.  Well, except with her before.

What is happening right now is so clichéd, so movie-like, that it's almost disgusting.  However, I don't care.  I never in my wildest dreams imagined that my wildest dreams would come true.  I'm happy to not be let down.

Miki suddenly jumps away, shocking me into thinking she's changed her mind about whatever she's about to do.  She turns the water off for the bathtub.  A little too much, but we can deal.  I ssexy beast and pull her back up to me, relieved.

"We have about forty-five minutes before dinner will even be put on a cart to be brought up here.  Let's make the most of it," I say softly. 

We slowly help each other undress, barely touching each other.  Our hands pass over each other's bodies so lightly that it's almost like we're ghosts who are unable to feel.  The tension from anticipation in the air is such that it presses down on my chest, almost making it difficult to breathe. 

Once we're undressed, we wash up outside the tub.  As she's trying to wash her own back, I take the sponge out of her hand and do it for her.  I lean forward and kiss her back, but it's full of soap and I gag, spit, and rinse.   She laughs at me, so I scrub her back harder.

Once we're clean, we go into the tub.  I'm first.  She follows.  We sit on opposite sides and stare at each other, our feet touching.  I don't want to do anything first.  I want her to feel okay about everything, because she's the one that was hurt most before.  She doesn't make any move and looks content to just watch me.

"So..." I say.  "Are, um..."

I don't know how to finish that sentence.  She gives me a silly look, halfway between seductive and, well, just plain dorky.  Maybe she wants me to do something first.

I mentally shrug and "swim" my way over to her.  I sit beside her and I wiggled an arm around her back, my hand coming to rest on her ribs opposite me. 

"Just think that after this, we'll have a nice, warm, huge dinner to look forward to."

That's got to be the stupidest, most unromantic thing I've ever said to anyone in this sort of situation, but she smiles. She probably thinks it's just a quaint, Ayaesque thing.

"And then after, we can go back to our card game," she says with an evil glint in her eye.

"Fine by me," I refuse to give in.  "I'm going to win."

It's funny how our flirting before Kobe never led anywhere, but now it's merely a prelude to something bigger.

"That's no fair," Miki whines with a sad voice.  "First you defeat me with your looks and your mind and your words, making me fall for you hopelessly, and then you say you'll defeat me at cards?  I feel terrible."

I'm about to retort when I realise what she's said. 

So I do the only sensible thing I can think of.  I kiss her.  Being partly submerged in water for this makes it much easier because we can float around and not worry about crushing each other.  I wiggle my way above her and hold her back with one hand to help her keep her from sliding down and drowning, while my other hand holds me up. 

I promptly slip, and we splash into the water.  Water goes up my nose, and I pull up, gasping for air and hacking and coughing.  She does the same, but she's laughing at me while she does it.  I sit up and mope at how much I just messed that up, but she pinches my arm and tells me not to be upset.  Water sports are dangerous.  I ask her if maybe we should just take it easy for now, and she growls "no", grabs me by the waist, and attacks me (gently).

Making out in a bathtub requires skill.  I guess we have to work on that.  We have a good time, though.  Better than a good time.  We remember a fraction of why we did what we did in Kobe and subsequent days.

After half an hour of just playing around, we get out of the bathtub (surprisingly both alive and not drowned) to dry off and get dressed.  Just as we're finished dressing, there's a knock at the door.  I go to answer.  The server tries not to look at me strangely as he wheels in enough food for a family of four.  I thank him and he leaves. 

I uncover some of the dishes and look at the food hungrily, but Miki appears beside me like a magical ninja and makes me put the pot lids back on.  She takes me by the hand and pushes me onto the bed.  She snuggles up beside me, resting her head right in my armpit. 

"Miki, I'm really hungry."

She puts a hand on my stomach and rubs it.

"Seriously.  I'm starving."

She somehow tugs me so that I'm above her.

"Don't you want me?" she whispers.

I look down and am suddenly hungry for more than just food.  I nod.

"Then you can have me."

I waste no time.  Food be damned.  However, as I'm about to kiss her, she pulls some sort of move and suddenly I'm underneath her and she's smothering me softly with urgent kisses, which I try to return.

She doesn't notice as she runs her hands over me gently, though, that I flinch inside against my will.  I shy away.  This surprises me, but there's a part of me that's afraid of her losing control.  What if she gets carried away?  What if something clicks and makes her remember her anger and how she dealt with it before?  The violence could be like some sort of addictive drug for her.  Now she's in that same position of power, and if she did anything to hurt me, I don't think I could stop her.  Not because I'd think I'd deserve it, but because I'd be too upset to believe it.

I blink and realise Miki's stopped.  She's looking down at me, her eyebrows knit together.  She rolls onto her side and puts a hand on my arm.

"I won't hurt you."

I guess she can read my mind after all.

"I know," I reply automatically.

She takes my chin and turns my head to force me to look at her.

"I won't hurt you," she repeats slowly and seriously as if I never replied.

I sigh and I smile a smile that's overcome with self-admonition.  I'm being silly.  Of course she won't hurt me.  What happened before was isolated.  Miki's already demonstrated that she's not like that.  I believe her words completely.  Even if I can't forget something like that night, I have to try and move beyond it.

"I know."

This time I mean it.

"Don't think that I will ever do that again to you," she continues.

"I believe you," I say warmly, but she refuses to smile at me.

"And I'm very sorry," she apologises, her tone switching from serious to regretful.

"Miki, we already forgave each other about everything.  We're over that."

"No, we didn't.  We never talked about how I treated you badly when I was angry.  I shouldn't have done that just because I didn't think I had you.  That was... sick and just wrong."

I look away at the ceiling.

"It wasn't that bad," I say in a barely audible voice.  "It's not like I really tried to stop you..."

I look at her and she looks super embarrassed now.

"Don't worry," I assure her.  "It was... interesting.  It was kind of... good."

She looks surprised. 

"In a shocking and wrong way and only because I was feeling bad," I quickly add.  "It still upset me even though I totally deserved it.  Don't get used to me liking that all the time, though."

She shakes her head vigourously and touches my head.

"Don't expect that from me ever again.  Not to that extent, at least," she winks.

I blush and then surprise her by jumping onto her and smothering her with the biggest hug I have ever given anybody in my life.  I let my full weight rest on top of her.  She returns the hug, squeezing me tightly.

"You're too heavy," she wheezes after a minute.  "Can't... breathe..."

I push into her harder.

"What?" I ask in a threatening tone.

"Nothing!" she squeaks.

I smile triumphantly and push myself up again, letting her breathe normally.

"Now try that again when you're not wearing anything and maybe I won't complain," she leers at me.

"When did you become such a pervert?" I ask in shock.

"Oh, come on," she groans, rolling her eyes.  "Am I not allowed to say those things to you without getting in trouble?  Or have you forgotten what it's like with me?"

I feel my face turn beet red, but I soon relax and become thoughtful.

"It's true.  It has been a while."

She grins and shoots her hands up my shirt, startling me.

"Yes.  But I don't think people forget things like this easily.

I gulp.

"Yeah, huh."

"I missed you, Aya," Miki whispers sadly.

I bend down to her ear.

"I missed you, too.  But it was for the better, right?"

"I guess."

"And it's over now.  The waiting.  I think I can be completely honest with you now.  I'll tell you anything you want to know."

"Just one thing," she says, her hands resting on my ribs.

"What?"

"How much do you love me?"

I roll my eyes.  I'm sure that's supposed to be a cute and silly question because she has to be retarded not to know how I feel.  I opt for a non-verbal, completely physical response in that I sit up and take her shirt off to reveal a Miki whose body has gotten a little soft around the edges and possibly hotter for it. 

My Miki.  All mine.  I shift down and rest my cheek on her tummy, feeling it rise and fall with every breath she takes.  I move my head up and put it against her heart and listen to it beating.  It's going quickly.  She's nervous.

I find her hands blindly and hold them tightly.

"Don't be scared," I tell her.

"I'm not scared..." she trails off because she knows I can hear her heart beating so quickly.

"I won't hurt you," I say, reminding us both that she wasn't the only one doing the hurting.

"I know."

"Ever."

"I know."

I pull up, look into her eyes, and we have a staring contest much like we did over a month ago before this all started.  Back when we were both innocent of any wrongdoings.  Back when we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Back when we couldn't control ourselves.  I feel that loss of control coming over me again.  Any minute now I'll snap.  It's a good loss of control.  It's the kind that can only come from wanting something so genuinely, so much, that you'll do anything.  That's how I feel about Miki.

I drag my hands along her arms from her hands.  They climb up her shoulders and I'm soon holding her neck, the part of the body that I consider to be the one most in need of protection.  One squeeze, one puncture, and life is gone.  It fills me with warmth and confidence when she doesn't flinch as I hold her there.  It's how I know she trusts me completely with her life.  I can feel every bone and relaxed muscle.   It's so soft, but there's something that remains so strong about it.  I guess it's just one of those features on a person that can be totally relaxed yet still look imposing.  Like a prominent nose or chiselled biceps.  Miki has neither of the last two, but she does have broad shoulders that-

What am I doing?  I stop analysing her features (because I'm probably boring her), so I start kissing them.  She sighs in what I hope is satisfaction.  I apologise to her physically for the things I've done.  I have said "sorry" enough times to get the point across intellectually, but now I have to show her - with these actions that speak louder than words - that I mean it.  On top of that, she needs to know what I'm thinking and how I'm feeling now.  Words can't begin to describe it.  Actions can't quite convey the meaning.  All I can do is try and hope that she can read my mind and know what's in my gut.

I accidentally tickle her ribs with my hands.  I honestly don't mean to.  My hands just move out of their own volition.  She laughs, throwing her head back, arching her back, and trying to push me off of her.  Her head is stopped from going far back by the pillow behind it.  I murmur an apology and kiss her taut neck, suddenly even hungrier for skin.  I finally realise that she tastes faintly of soap.  It's not unpleasant, but it's a little funny.  It tickles my nose.

"You taste like soap," I inform her of exactly what's on my mind.

"Yeah?" she asks uninterestedly.

She's got her arms wrapped around me and she's drawing things on my back through my shirt.

"It suits you.  Nice, clean, well brought up girl."

I continue to devour her neck as I can sense her rolling her eyes at me.

"That's more like you, Miss I-Love-My-Mom," she retorts.

I stop what I'm doing, think about sending my own retort back her way, but then think better of it and continue what I'm doing.

"Whatever."

It's true.  I do love my mom and the rest of my family, but I really don't want to think about them right now.

"Still soapy?" Miki asks jokingly.

"Yes," I mumble, my lips pressed against her skin.

I move up and kiss her lips and let her do what she wants with her hands.  She's trying to get my shirt off, but I don't move to help.  I have my own, passive forms of punishment.

"Move your arms," she mutters, urgency in her voice, hands tangled in my shirt.

"No," I breathe into her mouth.

She grows agitated.  I've sparked something in her.  She soon gives up and moves her hands down to the waist of my pants.  Neither mountains nor belt buckles can stop this girl from touching me.  From getting what she wants.  But I can.  I can stop her.

"Stop."

Her hands freeze.

"Sorry," she yelps.

She puts her hands palm down on the bed and doesn't move.  I roll off her and stretch out onto my side.  She still doesn't move.

"Miki," I ask in disbelief.  "Are you... whipped?"

She frowns at me and grabs me by the shoulders, pinning me down so I can't move.  The concept of being afraid seems foreign to me now.  This is a good thing.

Miki hovers over me looking like a devil, eyes narrowed, lips curled up in a playful sneer.

"You.  Wish."

And she proves to me that I certainly don't have any control over her.  I get the point after somehow all my clothes have come off and she's still wearing most of hers.  I gripe about how it's unfair, but it's too easy to get me to shut up.  Or at least to stop complaining. 

Maybe it's just because I remember something different, maybe it's because she's extra aware of it tonight, or maybe even it's just that she's levelled up in her feelings (which to me almost seems impossible that she could be devoted to me any more than she's already claimed), but Miki handles me so gently and so affectionately that I know I can't ever repay those sorts of feelings to her.  I don't think that even all the love in the world channelled right at her could ever compete with whatever is going through her head.  I love it and I love her, so I enjoy it when she pulls my jeans off and scratches her nails gently up my thighs and kisses my stomach and holds my hands tightly.  I whisper her name, which seems to drive her as much nuts as it drives me when my name passes through her lips.

Right now I'm on a cliff, teetering dangerously at the edge.  However, one push will send me tumbling not onto jagged rocks and to my death, but to delight and contentment and all that is happiness.  If I stay on the cliff, life won't be bad, but the hue will be different.  The colours not as bright. 

Miki pushes me over the edge in several ways. 

I could say that life will never be the same after tonight, but I think what would be more fitting would be to say that life hasn't been the same since I met Miki, and it'll never ever be the same whether she's around or not.  With her I've learned to expect not a stable life, but something that's changing and exciting all the time.  It seems like whether it's been good or whether it's been bad, it's always led up to an excellent ending.  A climactic ending, if you will.

As I fall through the air and towards the heavenly water below, I smile.  I grab one of those shoulders of hers and squeeze, digging my fingers in as if to touch her blood and bones so that I can directly feel those things that make her exist.  Of course I don't break the skin or leave marks that will last beyond a minute or two, but it's enough to imagine that I'm closer to her than I've ever been.

And when I hit the water, I'm submerged in warmth and I hug her snugly for a few minutes, overcome with feelings that completely drown out any remorse or fear that I ever dared to let get to me tonight.  I even forget that I was starving a while ago. 

Then she lets go.  I feel a little chilly from the air conditioned air and I pull her back towards me, latching on tightly.  She looks a little surprised at first, but her expression softens and as soon as I trust myself to move steadily, she lets me do what I want to her.  What I know she wants.

Hours later, Miki is asleep, cuddled into me in a familiar way as I lie awake watching her and thinking.

How many gods did I have to piss off to lose her in the first place?  Probably a lot.  Our attraction to one another is too strong to be broken by merely one divine will.  It must have taken dozens of them to get us to make mistakes and then hundreds of them to get us to fight about it.  We beat them in the end. 

What Miki and I have goes beyond fate or destiny or other such celestial forces that I don't really believe in anyway.  Put us on opposite ends of Earth and we'll journey through whatever dangers in order to meet up halfway.  It's not destiny.  It's just that I'm me, and she's she, and together, we're two friendly, talented, stubborn, gorgeous girls walking down that same path of youth, hand-in-hand and heads in the clouds.


-The end of story 3
« Last Edit: June 01, 2007, 08:37:16 AM by OTN1 »

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2007, 01:11:12 PM »
Love x 2 - 1
story 4


Chapter 1 of 35

It has been eight years since I last saw her in person. 

For some reason I think about that fact on this fine autumn afternoon.  The wind is still mild, but hidden in it is a hint of the chill that's just around the corner.  I can feel it in the mornings when I wake up early for work.  Winter will come soon.  Time to pull out the dusty heaters.

It's a quarter past five pm and it's getting dark.  I'm sitting on my balcony listening to some old music and drinking tea.  I'm wearing a t-shirt, but I know that I'll need to go back inside and get a sweatshirt soon if I plan to stay out.  Until that time, I'll stay as I am.

I look through the spaces between the rails and see urban sprawl.  It has become a comforting vista these past few years.  It's my home now, and no matter how unsightly it is, I always feel glad to return to it.  I also always reserve a space in my heart for those sad, longing feelings I get.  They mix with my nostalgia.  My yearning for things of the past, things that are long gone now.

She comes to mind again.  She often does during contemplative moments like these.  She's smiling at me, her laugh lines and dimples so pronounced it's as if they've been etched into her cheeks permanently from too much laughter.

Eight years.  Eight years and I can still remember her face, the sound of her voice, her smell, the things she'd say, her style.

I close my eyes and inhale deeply.  I'm so alive.  My stomach growls.

I think of her and I smile tartly.  Whenever she'd hear my stomach growl she'd tease me without fail.  Now it's just a funny memory, but back then it was a chance to bite back and defend myself, pretending to give her the cold shoulder until she pitied me and found me some food.  I was so spoiled by her.

Now that I think about it, I shouldn't have wasted any opportunity to be close to her, even when playing around.  All those times I played it up, cutely pretending to be offended and jokingly keeping her at a distance... I'd give those up if it meant one extra hug or kiss.  An opportunity to touch and feel warmth.

Because now I have none.

I sigh and think about what to eat to fill my stomach up.  I run through a list of meals I could make or buy, but nothing appeals to me.  I open my eyes and look into my apartment.  It's surprisingly neat, although there's one piece of junk lying on the kitchen counter.  It's from a few days ago.  It's a Kit Kat wrapper.  I eye it and realise what I'm craving.

Chocolate.

I get up and find my stash - I always have some on hand - and I settle down on my couch.  Chocolate will be my dinner today.  I deserve it.  I need it

Just before I start to pop a square into my mouth, I distinctly remember something from my past.  A certain conversation from... how long ago was it?  Twelve years.  It was twelve years ago and I remember it like it was last week.

We were in Kobe.  It was the first moment in our relationship where we finally admitted to each other that we felt there was something more than friendship between us.  A new kind of love that differed from the innocent, friendly one we had for each other before.  It was a moving night, but this conversation I'm remembering is from the next morning.

Chocolate.

I giggle and put the square in my mouth.  I close my eyes, leaning my head against the wall and relishing the taste of the chocolate and my memories.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2007, 01:11:39 PM »
Chapter 2 of 35

That was a quite a night, was the first thing I thought when I woke up.  The second thing I thought was, Someone please stop that ringing

The phone was screaming out in a very loud and obnoxious way.  I suddenly felt a hand touch my back, and I heard a slight groan accompany it.  The mattress moved as a body turned around.

I was too lazy to open my eyes, but my heart skipped a beat, my internal organs liquefied instantly.  I stayed very still and waited.  She rolled up and I heard her yank the phone off the hook.

"Hello?" she rasped out quietly.  There was a pause, some muttered response from her that I could barely make out, and then the phone was slammed down.

"Fuck," she muttered under her breath, and I contained my laughter.  "Stupid stupid ug crap."

She could say the rudest, foulest things, but Aya would always remain sounding nothing less than adorable.

She didn't lie back down, however, and that's when I started to panic.

Adorable and cute Aya.

What was going through her head now?  Was she suddenly remembering what happened and realizing how big a mistake it was?  Was she feeling awkward or scared of what I might think?  Was last night a one-time thing for us, after which we'd return to our regular friendship until years later when we accidentally got drunk and did it again?

I thoroughly berated myself as I lay there pretending to be asleep, scared of having to get up and face utter humiliation.  I could just imagine her sitting there, staring at the sheets and wondering how to get out of this situation, staring at her hands and wondering how she could have touched me as something more than just a friend.

If last night turned out to meaningless, I would most likely cry.  I'd told her so many things and probably made a fool of myself.  She said things, too, over the course of the night that I thought meant she felt the same way, but now I wasn't so sure.  People said things all the time, but often under some sort of influence.  In this case it was raging hormones, one of the most powerful and addictive drugs that gave the best kind of high.

I knew for sure that I hadn't simply been a hostage to my hormones the night before, because at that moment I felt the exact same (if not stronger) feelings for her as when I was at my highest of highs sometime in the early morning.

As I sunk further into a deep, darkening well of depression, I felt her move.  I knew she was going to quietly go off and get showered and dressed before me.

That's why it surprised me when she reached down and pulled the sheets up over me, tucking me in gently so that I wouldn't get cold.  I felt her settle down beside me, and I could feel her breath on my hand.

Suddenly, all was right in the world.

With that action, I finally relaxed and banished all depressing thoughts from my mind.  She wouldn't have stayed with me like this if she didn't feel something.  She had shown me the truth last night...

I lay there with my eyes closed, basking in the aura of relaxation that I could feel coming off of her.  I could even feel her eyes on me.  I knew she was watching me.  My arm muscle twitched involuntarily and I was momentarily afraid that she'd guess I was awake, but she didn't say anything.

I was filled with unexplainable love, and it burst forth from me in the guise of sleep talking.

"Love you, Aya."

And I repeated it.  Then I rolled over and opened my eyes, staring straight at her.  She looked bewildered.  I closed my eyes again and settled onto my back, repeating my phrase.

"Love you, Aya.  Love you, Aya."

"Speak louder, you dummy, " she whispered to me.

So I spoke louder in order for her to hear what I was saying.  I felt her put her head on my pillow, and I knew for certain that I had her.  I opened my eyes, smiled, and repeated my phrase a few more times.

"Love you, Aya.  Love you, Aya."

I patted the surprised girl on the cheek.

"Good morning," I said happily.

Aya stared at me as if I'd grown horns and a moustache.  She asked if I was awake and then she began interrogating me.

"Who's the prime minister?" she demanded.

"Who cares?" I retorted, rolling onto my side and putting an arm around her.

"Are you messing around with me?" she asked with a suspicious glare.

"No, but I'm just about to start," I laughed, and I let my hand wander to her ribs.

She didn't let me continue.  She put a hand on my hand and stopped it.

"Okay, wait. What were you just saying?"

"My mantra. Do I get a good morning kiss, or what?" I asked, moving in towards her.

She was having none of that.  She continued to grill me, but I took it all patiently.  She wanted to know how long I'd been awake, and I answered, in a "duh" tone, since the phone rang.

She groaned and put her head back down on my pillow and insisted on knowing why I hadn't said anything.  I didn't want to ruin the moment and tell her I'd been freaked out, so I gave her the other half of the reason.

"Because I like it when your guard is down in the morning."

I'm pretty sure she liked that answer.  We continued with our banter for a bit before we settled into a brief silence, during which I took pride in how I'd handled things.  I'd done the right thing.  By acting like a goofball, we'd had no time to feel awkward.

"Did you have fun?" I asked suddenly.

I just needed to make sure.  I wanted to make sure that last night had happened and that she acknowledged it.

"When? Last night?" Aya asked.

I nodded, wondering what she'd say.

"Yes, I did."

Three simple, quietly spoken words.  A pleasant smile.

That was enough to make my heart soar past cloud nine to some higher level of happiness.

"Good.  Me too."

And I lay there in bliss. 

We were quiet for a moment until my stomach growled.  I don't think she heard it, but I definitely felt it.

"So when's breakfast?" I asked casually.  She told me and then scolded me, asking if all I thought about was food.

I gave her a snotty look, but inside I felt all warm and melty.  She was expecting me to be all morning-after romantic?  I could be.  I really could be for her.  I could be more than just romantic.  I could be sexy and cute and sweet and assertive.  I could even be awake, an important thing for the early morning.  I could give her all of that and more.

"Maybe," I replied to her question.  "But it's ok."

I climbed on top of her and pushed her onto her back.  She looked surprised.

"I don't mind breakfast in bed."

And then she looked thrilled.  I gained sixteen-thousand confidence points.  I was doing the right thing.

We messed around a bit in bed.  It was more fun and cute than anything else.  This time I took control because she was sluggish from sleep.

Silly morning head, I thought lovingly as I looked down at her sleepy face, her eyes barely open.

I talked to her sweetly, teased her gently, made her giggle and roll her eyes... I didn't even know what I was saying.  Dumb stuff.  But she liked it, and I liked saying it.

Finally after a while, Aya spoke up.

"Miki, it's just past seven.  If you want your precious breakfast before we leave, we should get ready."

I thought about it and how I should reply.  On the one hand I could play the offended victim.  Ask her why she was checking the time when I was putting all my effort into giving her a fun time.  On the other hand I could agree and actually eat some much-needed food.  I didn't know about her, but I got really really hungry after active nights like that.

I finally settled on a nod.

"Yeah, maybe we should," I agreed. 

It was the practical solution.  I kissed her quickly and then rolled off the bed, grabbing her arms and pulling her up after me.

"Come on, the shower's big enough for two.  It'll be faster," I insisted, taking her hand.

She looked at me warily and I grinned back.

"I promise we won't take more than fifteen minutes."

She gave in far too easily, and so we took a shower together.

We may as well have stayed in bed until eight o'clock for all the time it saved us.

One can look at it as my fault for starting it, or one can realise that if I hadn't started it, she would have.  There I was taking a shower with the hottest person I'd ever spent a night in bed with.  How could I not at least touch her?

So that's how it started.  I just touched her shoulder and ran my finger across her upper back, creating a trail through the water drops, a trail that quickly closed up again because of the water constantly spraying down on our bodies. 

Aya turned around and looked at me with an impish smile that spoke volumes.  I raised an eyebrow and returned her smile, turning away and picking up the shampoo.  I lathered up and then handed her the bottle.  As she lathered, I rinsed.  As she rinsed, I took the conditioner bottle.  We repeated.

While she was rinsing the conditioner from her hair, I leaned against the tiled wall and watched her.  She knew I was watching, but she refused to look back.  When she was done, she reached for the soap and a wash cloth.  I righted myself up and smoothly took the two things from her.  She looked at me inquisitively and I shot her a brief winning smile before letting my face fall back into its relaxed expression.

I couldn't very well let her wash herself.  I did it for her.

It was a new experience.  Washing someone, washing her.  It was different and a little strange, but nice.  She stood there and let me, so I figured she must be enjoying it, too.

As I let my hands play around her body with the pretence of lathering up soap, I wondered if spreading soap on someone's body was the same as sex with chocolate syrup.  Of course chocolate syrup was meant to be licked off, and soap, while nice and clean, was not.  I caught myself wondering if Aya would be into that - chocolate sex.

As I rinsed the soap off of her body, I made myself blush thinking about how I'd get all the chocolate off of her.  She noticed my look and grabbed me by the shoulders, pinning me to the cold, wet wall.

"What are you thinking about?  What's that face?" she asked playfully.

I blushed and looked down, turned even redder because I was staring at her chest, and then looked back up at her grinning, curious face.  I felt like such a little kid.

"Nothing," I mumbled.

She pressed her body into mine, making me gulp.

"What?" she asked again. 

I must have turned the colour of a lobster, but I quickly regained my mask of cool.

"I was just wondering what you'd taste like if I spread chocolate all over your body and licked it all off," I stated bluntly.

I felt her heart speed up.

"Oh," she managed to say.

I grinned, no longer embarrassed.  I crushed my lips against hers, turning us around and pushing her against the wall.   I dropped the wash cloth in the process, clean thoughts all forgotten.

"Maybe one day we can try that," I mumbled without thinking.

I kissed down her neck.

"Uh huh," she replied distractedly.

"We'll buy lots of chocolate syrup," I continued along my path slowly.

"Yeah."

"So much that the cashier will look at us funny."

"Yeah."

"And then-"

"Uh huh?"

"-we'll go to my place - or yours -"

"Uh huh."

"-and take a bath."

"Right."

"And when we're done that, and nice and dry-" I was kneeling down and kissing her belly button at this point.

"Yeah..."

"I'll lay you down on the bed-"

"Y-yeah."

"-and spread chocolate all over your thighs-"

She wheezed out an affirmative response, unable to form proper words.

"-and I'll lick it all up.  Every square millimetre.  Every trace of chocolate."

I kissed the inside of her thigh and ran my tongue across it, a preview of what I'd do on the day we had chocolate sex.

"And then when I'm done that..." I said, abruptly standing up to face her.

Her eyes had been closed, her head leaned back against the wall.  She snapped open her eyes and looked at me.

"And?" she asked.

"And when I've made you scream out my name a gazillion times," I continued, holding her waist and pushing her against the wall again harder.

"A gazillion times," she echoed breathlessly.

"Once I've done that and made you as weak as a starving kitten-"

"Mmhmm?"

I put my mouth right up to her ear.

"-then it's your turn to do me."

We were very late that morning.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2007, 01:13:06 PM »
Chapter 3 of 35

We never ended up doing that - having chocolate sex.  Not like that, at least.  We were too obsessed with each other to bother with things like chocolate syrup or blindfolds and handcuffs.  We didn't need props, costumes, or imaginary scenarios.  Our raw selves were more than enough.

We did have fun with chocolate, though.  We'd sometimes buy the expensive stuff and go to one of our apartments and eat it in a ceremonious way.  We'd devote one hundred percent of ourselves to the act of consuming the chocolate.  We'd sometimes feed it to each other, but there were no interruptions.  Once we'd had enough chocolate, we'd devote our entire selves to each other.  No interruptions.

I open my eyes again and realise that I've been lost in my daydream for twenty minutes.  I sigh.  I have no plans tonight.  I continue to think.

When did we ever talk about what happened in Kobe?  We didn't mention it a lot when we were still together.  It was something that had happened and led us to something better, so we never felt the need to really analyse it.

I search my memory and become frightened because I know that we did talk about it once or twice and now I'm having trouble remembering when that was.  It was... It was...  I finally remember.  It was a few days later, just before we had to go back to work after our (failed) vacation and just after she got back from a charity concert in Yamanashi.  We had gone shopping for food.  We went back to her place, we cooked, we chatted.  That's also when we acknowledged the enormity that was Kobe.

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2007, 01:13:32 PM »
Chapter 4 of 35

"Pass the salt," Aya said.

I obediently did so.  Rule number one of keeping a happy Aya was not to defy her in the kitchen.  Never ever ever.  She'd go all Kansai on my butt if I did.

She sprinkled salt on the two eggs that were frying in the pan.  I watched them.  One of the eggs' yolks had broken, but the other's was still intact.  In a way it reminded me of me and her.  The unbroken-yolked egg was her.  She was neat, put together, organized, and a perfectionist.  I was the runny egg: messy, confused, in favour of simple, one dimensional designs, and never thinking before speaking.

I laughed at it in my head.  I was comparing us to eggs. 

Eggs frying in a pan together.  Eggs joined by... Well, the egg white, of course.  The whites of each egg had mixed together as to make them indistinguishable from one another.  But the one's runny yolk, too, got thrown into the mix.  Was it some sort of symbol?  My stupidity brought us together?  Or she felt responsible for me and thus helped by reaching out and holding my hand?  Or maybe, even, it showed that I was all over her all the time.  I grinned outwardly.  I liked that interpretation.

Without looking, Aya reached out a hand and brushed her hand along my cheek.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked curiously.

She always asked me that question.  She seemed ten years older, her tone of voice, her ability to split her attention perfectly between two things (me and the eggs). It awed me.

My grin widened and, of course without thinking, I launched into an explanation of my egg theory.  When I was finished, so were the eggs.  She turned the heat off, put the spatula down, and faced me squarely.

"So you think that a frying pan full of runny egg is a good metaphor for us?" she asked without a single trace of mocking in her voice.

Put like that, it made my whole idea sound so idiotic.  I laughed, which prompted her to laugh.

"Well..." I said with a shrug.

She giggled some more and looked very amused.

"Maybe the broken yolk symbolises your brain," she teased me.

"Hmph!"

We continued to cook, but now I had questions running through my mind.  I had to ask.

"What exactly are we, Aya?"

She put down her stirring spoon and looked at me curiously.

"What are we?  Like you and me as human beings?"

She wasn't quite getting it.

"I mean... Saturday morning we were best friends.  Sunday morning we woke up and we were...?"

"Still best friends," she filled in without a pause.

"And?" I asked.

"And?" she asked back.

"And more?" I tried.  I was confused.  Maybe our definitions of 'best friend' were different.  Or not.

"What do you think?" she asked me.

I shrugged.

"I don't know.  I'm asking you.  Are you, like, my girlfriend now or something?"

She snorted as the word "girlfriend" left my lips.  I quickly rethought it and hummed.  It did seem pretty ridiculous to call her that.  Like she'd been demoted.  Like the same title given to so many girls in the world could explain what she was to me.  I told her with a nod and a look that I understood what she thought and that I agreed. 

"My lover?" I tried again, but the moment the words left my mouth, I wanted to take it back.  I almost laughed at the thought of calling her that.  It seemed so... silly.

That wasn't it, either.  Definitely not.  She shrugged.

"Why can't we just be Aya and Miki?  I'm your Aya.  You're my Miki," she suggested simply.  "It's not like we're two totally new people today.  We just opened up new sides to each other."

I liked the sound of it.  She was smart!  But did it mean...?

"But does it mean that, well- if there's... well, if you ever met, um, another, uh-" I stumbled. 

She silenced me with a hand on my wrist and one shake of her head.

"No.  When I say I'm your Aya, I mean I'm yours only.  Nobody else's."

I smiled and held her hand.

"Okay.  Me too.  Yours only.  Promise."

She laughed at my casual tone, but she squeezed my hand tightly.

"So two nights ago was..." I started.

"Was the best night I've ever had.  I only expect my nights to get better."

I liked the sound of that, and I guaranteed her that any time spent with me would be fun.

"Can you get the rice?  It's finished."

I blinked.  My jaw might have dropped open a bit.  Did Aya just interrupt a meaningful conversation in order to tell me that the rice was finished cooking? 

She looked at me impatiently and I just nodded like a zombie and went to turn the rice cooker off.  I opened the lid and was surprised by two things.  One was a huge cloud of steam blowing right into my face.  The smell of rice invaded my nostrils in an unpleasant, choking, and burning way.  The second thing was a pair of arms wrapping around me and hugging me tightly, pulling me away from the danger zone and into another kind of danger zone.

"Sorry, I love doing that to you," Aya confessed into my shoulder.  "You're just so... vulnerable."

She always did this to me.  We'd be deep in conversation about something serious and then she'd bust out with some sort of command so off topic and so unimportant that I'd be surprised into going along with her.

I pursed my lips together slyly and leaned my head back against her forehead.

"When will I ever learn to stop obeying your every single command?" I wondered aloud.

"The day I leave you," she laughed.

"Aya, don't say that!" I cried out in shock, upset but laughing.

What a way to throw a bucket of cold water on a potentially steamy situation.

She giggled into my neck.

"I'm joking.  I'm jooooking!"

"God, you're horrible," I lamented.

She squeezed me more tightly.

"Whatcha gonna do about it?" she asked.

I ignored her and I started walking to the fridge.  She clung on, so we must've looked like an awkward set of conjoined twins that hadn't learned how to coordinate their movements yet.  I opened the fridge and took out one of the onions we'd bought earlier.  Then, with the Aya parasite on my back, I went to the counter, grabbed a knife, and started chopping, both of us staying silent the whole time.

A few minutes after I started crying, Aya let go.  She was crying, too, wiping at her eyes.

"You are so mean," she sniffed, backing away from the onion.

"You are so annoying," I shot back.

I continued chopping and she stood off to the side.  Halfway through the onion, I stopped.  I snuck a look sideways.  She was standing with her arms crossed and watching me with a blank look.  I returned her expressionless gaze, and then out of nowhere, the corner of my lip turned upwards.  I saw her mouth twitch.  The corner of her lip also turned up.  In no time I cracked up and started laughing.  She joined me, and we laughed gleefully.

"I can't believe you," she said.

"I can't believe how much you make me want to smack you when you act like that," I replied.

We laughed for a long time and then continued cooking because we were very very hungry.

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2007, 01:14:23 PM »
Chapter 5 of 35

I am suddenly filled with inexplicable anger.  I open my eyes and step out of my dream again.  I wish Aya was here right now so that I could smack her hard for leaving me.  I clench my fists and imagine yelling at her and telling her exactly what I think.  Eight years ago, just gone.  It's not fair.  What about me?

I calm down and take some deep breaths.  It happens sometimes that I become so angry that I can't think properly.  I think things that I regret.  I feel guilty because there are some things and people you're not supposed to think ill of.  Aya is one of them now.  I can't think bad things about her.  I mean... she's Aya.

And sometimes at times like this, I become depressed because it's been eight years and I'm still getting like this over her.  I can't let go and accept that she's not in my life anymore.  I have to move on, I tell myself.  Move on.

My only problem is that I have nobody to help me move on.  Sure I have close friends, but I don't think anyone really understands just how deep a thing I have - no, had - with that girl.

I look down at my hands.  They're shaking slightly.  It could be the chocolate.  I don't eat it that often.  This past week has been different, though.  I've had big things on my mind and for some reason I've really needed chocolate to help me deal with them.

I try to remember the last time I was this upset over matters concerning Aya. 

I close my eyes...

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2007, 01:14:55 PM »
Chapter 6 of 35

The night started with a ring of the doorbell.  I was warming up some food with a cute documentary about some sort of monkeys in Africa playing on the TV.

Lately I'd been worried about Aya.  She was very distracted, especially the night before.  She hadn't been acting herself for the past few days.  It was strange because she had been the one to snap me out of a paranoid streak where I'd been afraid to even look at her in public.  Now she was the one getting quiet around me, and I was trying to comfort her, but I had no idea what I was supposed to be comforting her about.  She refused to tell me.

I suspected the worst.  I wondered if I'd done something wrong.  I was too scared to face the truth, though.  It confused me too much.  She acted all interested and happy for one minute, during which I was absolutely convinced that we were okay.  But then the next minute she would become quiet, look worried, and then clam up about why.  I grew very uncomfortable around her at those times.  I tried not to show it (which didn't matter that much since she was so distracted anyway).

I decided that the best way to make her relax was to do everything for her.  I'd let her have one evening where she didn't have to do a bit of work beyond chewing food.

When the bell rang, I knew it was her.  I dropped my chopsticks and skipped over to the door, excitedly pulling in a surprised Aya. 

I studied her for a moment.  She looked tired.  Her eyes were a little less sparkly than usual.

She needs rest, I thought.  I had her sit down on the couch after quizzing her about how long she could stay over, and then I proceeded to feed her dinner (not quite literally). 

Maki's yakisoba was a hit.  Aya loved it.  She made of fun of me for not being able to cook.  I defended myself, but deep down inside I knew that she was right.  I'd never really cared to learn properly before no matter how good my mom was.  But lately I'd felt the need to learn.  Like it would make me feel more grown up or a bit more likeable.  If I could cook something for an important person (like Aya), it would make me feel good.  I'd be helping somehow.  I was embarrassed to also admit that I wouldn't mind having an important person (like Aya) being astounded by something I made being so delicious and telling me so in an unequivocal way.  I liked it when she complimented me...

We ate, play-argued, and watched TV.  That's when Aya's eyes glazed over. 

We were watching an interview of a new singer who had released a single under a small, unheard of company.  I was impressed that she'd gotten a spot on such a high profile show.  I turned to comment to Aya, but she just sat there with a vacant look on her face.  I sighed and moved up to the couch, lying down comfortably.  She didn't react.

I said a few things to her over the course of ten minutes, but she didn't reply.  She didn't seem to have heard.  I got bored and poked her in the shoulder with my toe.

"How-?" she asked when she turned around and saw me lying on the couch.

"You either really like this new singer on TV or you spaced out again. I've been trying to get your attention for ten minutes," I said, trying not to let too much ice into my voice.

"Sorry, I..." she trailed off.

"You're tired and you spaced out," I finished for her.  She looked guilty.  "Aya, I wanted you to come over so that you could just relax. A bit of home cooking, TV, and just sitting around doing nothing should do the trick. Whatever is on your mind, just let it go. It's not important right now. There's nothing you can do at a quarter to eight in the evening."

I just wished she'd tell me what was going on.  I could help her, or at least support her.  If only she'd tell me...

She looked anxious and she put a hand on her forehead, massaging it on her own.

"Headache again?" I asked almost in disbelief.

Either she was lying and she was trying to distract me, or she was telling the truth, which meant she was probably running herself into the ground with stress. 

Aya nodded and I rolled off the couch to join her.  I was starting to become annoyed, but I ignored it.  I put an arm around her shoulders.

"Tell me what I can do to help you," I begged her. 

I looked at the side of her face and I could almost see the wheels turning inside her brain.  Her eyebrows furrowed just a little as if she was in pain.

"Just stay here," she said in a tiny voice.

I knew what she meant, but I made a joke and told her that it was no problem since I lived there.

"No, I mean just stay beside me."

She looked embarrassed saying that.  I wanted to tell her not to be afraid of being like that with me - admitting she needed help in the form of someone by her side.  I wasn't going to tell anyone.  I wasn't going to laugh inappropriately at her.  I certainly wasn't going to ditch her.  She knew I was there for her.  She knew that I was on call all the time, and that if she needed anything at four in the afternoon or four in the morning, I'd be there to help.  She knew that my love for her transcended all sorts of barriers, definitions, and conventions.  I may not have been the brightest person, may not have had access to convenient gadgets, or may not have been rich enough to buy a jet, but I had a heart big enough for her.  A heart big enough to give most of it to her.  She knew that.

Or I hoped she knew that.

"If you want to talk..." I tried once more.

"There's nothing to talk about. I'm just stressed over work."

That hurt like hell.  It was like she was brushing me off.  She was looking down at me and telling me I was not needed.  That I was not worth telling her feelings to.  I seethed with anger.  Some of it was directed towards her, but most of it was directed towards myself because I didn't know what to do.  I must have failed somewhere along the way and made her not want to tell me what was going on.  I tried to retrace my steps to see where I'd gone wrong.  While I did this, I thought I'd better do something to show that at least I was paying attention.

"Okay."

And I settled by her side.  I was continually filled with emotions that I felt bad feeling.  I wanted to push her away and cry and tell her to stop leaving me in the dark.  But doing that might make her feel worse, and the worst thing in the world for me was when Aya was feeling bad.  I could be in the hospital with a broken leg, four missing teeth, and hepatitis C, yet I'd only cry if she dropped her ice cream on the ground. 

I could be raging mad at her and want to do nothing but hug her.

The mysterious things that girl did to me...
« Last Edit: October 03, 2007, 10:22:41 PM by OTN1 »

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2007, 01:15:20 PM »
Chapter 7 of 35

Remembering that moment has cured me of my anger.  For now.

I get up to get a glass of water, but I'm sidetracked by a sudden thought.  I've remembered something. 

I go to my television set and turn on channel four.  I'm just in time.

There she is on TV.

Matsuura Aya, the pride of Japan.

I sit down across the room and watch.  She looks so good.  They're showing clips of her old videos first, and something in me feels overwhelmed with love again.  She may be a teenager in those videos, but I know what she becomes after a few years. 

There she is singing about mail and tropical vacations.  I suddenly want to return to the past.  Maybe the day we first met.  We were so cute back then.  So stupid and cute.

How drastically things change.  We went from dumb little cute angels to sexy vixens.  I won't deny it.  We were hot individually and together.  What we couldn't show on camera, we did together after hours.

I close my eyes and ignore the TV program, remembering what happened right after I was finished being angry with her that night she came over.

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2007, 01:15:50 PM »
Chapter 8 of 35

We sat together and watched TV for an hour.  I could feel her entire body was tense, but she didn't seem to space out at all.  I would casually look at her from time to time and she looked like she was concentrating hard on staying awake.  She was staring at the TV with such fierce intensity that I was almost afraid to say anything because she might have a heart attack from surprise.

Our eyes met once.  She saw me looking at her and turned her head.  I didn't know what to do, but she smiled.  I smiled back.  That was pretty much all our interaction for the whole hour (other than sitting right beside each other).

After that hour I realised it was getting silly just sitting there.  I wasn't even paying attention to the TV.  I was desperately trying to figure out what the big picture was in my real life.  When the TV show ended, I took my (numb) arm from her shoulders and grabbed the remote to flick the set off.

"How's your headache?" I asked.

"Almost better," she replied with a small smile.

One small smile was all it took to make me want to hug her for eternity.  I settled with kissing the top of her head quickly.

"Come on.  Bedtime," I said while standing up and extending a hand to help her up.

She grabbed on and I pulled her up.  She went to get her bag and followed me into my room, putting her bag down in the corner.  I walked over to her and put a hand on her arm and pushed her to the door.

"You go take a shower first.  I've got to clean up here, okay?" I said.

I felt like I was an adult taking care of a small child.  It was a strange role reversal because usually she was the one who babied me.

She nodded and went off to wash herself.  I tidied up the room so that it could pass for something inhabitable, and then I took a shower once she was done.  I stood under the showerhead, staring at the floor for about a minute while my hair was thoroughly soaked.

Were we really okay?

I didn't know anymore.  My anger left completely.  I became plain sad.  Maybe we'd ruined a perfectly good friendship.  Maybe we shouldn't have jumped into this situation.  We were now practically living together.  Eating, breathing, sleeping together.  We shared everything from ice cream to clothes to germs.  Maybe we were too young to be doing that.  There was nobody around to control us and tell us what was good for us and what was bad for us.  Maybe someone with an objective opinion would have told us we were making a big mistake or conducting our relationship incorrectly.

I trusted Aya to know what she was doing (or at least to have more of a clue), but right now she wasn't really being approachable.  I was scared to ask her if we were all right.  I might make things awkward.  She might get angry.

As a result, I was lost and directionless. 

I shook my head and reminded myself that I was in the shower and was thus wasting water by only standing there.  I sped through the rest of my routine and got out quickly.

Back in my room, Aya was sitting on the floor checking her messages, and so I got into my pyjamas quickly.  I decided to drop my worries and try to keep positive and have fun.  I had to check and see if we were still cool, and I thought the best way to do that was for me to relax.

I playfully jumped into my bed and snuggled under the covers, pulling them over my head.  I watched Aya finish writing a message.  When she looked up, all she saw was my head poking out as if I was a shy turtle.  She belted out a few notes of laughter and put her phone away, slipping into the bed and lying on her side. 

I turned around to face her and we did what I call an exchange of "ho hum" looks.  That's just an exchange of looks that says, "well, here we are on this typical day."  Not smiling, but not bored or angry.  Just normal.

"Here we are, huh?" I said.

"Hmm.  Here we are."

It was one of those still moments where if one of us moved, the intensity of the movement would be magnified by two hundred per ent because of the overwhelming presence of stillness.  It would be a huge, loud action.  It would be awkward as it would sharply pierce the silence.

I pulled the covers away from my head and reached out, brushing her hair back behind her ear. 

I was never one for subtlety in bed.

I slid closer to her, propping myself up on my elbow and resting my head on my hand.  I stared at her for a while.  She stared back for a bit, smirked, and then rolled onto her back to look up at the ceiling.  She reached up and took my hand out of her hair, holding it lightly.  She moved our hands to the space between us, placing them on the bed.

I continued to look at her, wondering what was going through her head.  What did she think about me right at this moment?  Was she even thinking about me at all?  Maybe she was thinking about work... or about that thing that was bothering her.  Maybe she didn't want me touching her at all.  Maybe she wanted to sleep.  Maybe-

Oh shut up, Miki! I yelled at myself.

I was such an idiot.  I couldn't just go with the flow and relax.  Not with my ability to easily become paranoid.

But my problem was that I worried so much because it was her.  Nothing short of perfection was acceptable from me when it came to her.  I had to make sure everything was perfect perfect perfect.  Just like her.

It was a funny paradox.  She was the only one I could completely relax and be my real self around, but she was the one who made me most uptight.  Well, at least lately.

It used to not be like that...

I mentally glared at my train of thought and made it stop.  Just in time, too, because Aya turned her head to look at me.  She looked happy.  I became much calmer.

I let my eyes wander down her blanket-covered body.  I imagined the blanket wasn't there and I smiled.  Nothing like a cute thought to relax me.

"Do you know that your pyjamas are my favourite outfit on you?" I asked her.

I'd always thought so.  I loved how I could speak my mind about things like that so easily.

"Really?" she asked with a frown.

She was probably thinking of the time and effort she put into making herself look good during the day and was confused about why I didn't seem to appreciate it as much.

"Mm hmm," I said quickly.  "Because you look cute.  Any girl can look good if she spends enough time in front of the mirror.  But they need the makeup and the fashionable clothes.  You can look so hot without anything fancy on."

"Don't be stupid," Aya rolled her eyes, but I think she secretly agreed.  "Besides, I've seen something cuter: You wearing my pyjamas.  I have the picture just in case you've forgotten," she reminded me.

I giggled.  Of course I remembered that.  It was only last weekend.

"And you know what else I like about them?  Your pyjamas?" I asked, scooting in a little closer, taking my hand out of hers and playing with the neckline of her shirt.

"What?" she asked with an amused smile.

"They're so easy to take off."

She laughed in disbelief and looked up at the ceiling.

"Sometimes I swear you have a teenaged boy's mind," she groaned.  "You can't go five seconds without thinking about naked bodies and sex."

"Whaaat?" I whined, rolling onto my stomach and resting both elbows by her head, my chin resting on both hands.

It was at times like these that I felt so confident and so strong because she trusted me.  I could talk like this with her because I knew she didn't mind.  In fact, she liked it.

"Then again, I can't complain.  I knew you were like this before I surrendered myself to you as your latest victim."

"Surrendered?  Victim?" I chuckled.  "Careful, Aya-chan.  You keep going down that vocabulary path and you'll be talking dirty in no time."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you," Aya sighed.

I bared my teeth with a wide grin.

"I wouldn't complain."

I was completely in my element again.  Aya was the only person who had ever seen this side of my personality.  It felt good to let loose.

I swooped down to kiss her, but she quickly brought up a hand between our faces and stopped me.  I raised my eyebrows.

"What's this?" I grumbled.

"I have a question."

"Yeah?"

I was impatient.  We didn't have forever to live.  We were wasting precious seconds.

"Do you prefer me as my normal self or when I talk like that and say risky things?"

I laughed at her question.

"What a stupid question," I said.  "Of course the normal you.  I talk riskily enough for the both of us."

She seemed pleased with my answer.

"Okay, I like that.  But what if-"

"Sh!" I demanded.

"But I want to ask if-"

I stuck out my tongue and licked the back of her hand in the sloppiest way I could.

"Ew," she said with distaste.  She wiped her hand on the sheets.  "I was saying I wa-"

But my plan had worked perfectly, and now that her hand was out of the way, I could make her shut up with my lips.  I couldn't help but smile with glee.  I was so smart sometimes.  A little gross, but effective.  I didn't let her finish her sentence.  It was forgotten in no time, anyway, and I proved to her that what I was said about taking off her pyjamas was very true.  She also showed me that my pyjamas were pretty easy, too. 

But of course.

However, in the midst of our fun, I wondered if she wanted to sleep.  She'd been really out of it before, and she did have a headache.  Maybe she was just humouring me now, letting me enjoy myself a bit before calling it quits and going to sleep.

I was propped up over her, playing with her hair and touching her face, counting all the moles I could find.  I always ended up with a different number.  It was so hard to keep track...

"Are you okay?" I asked her seriously in mid-count.

"I'm fine," she replied simply.

"Do you want me to stop?" I asked, looking at her, my eyes probably wide enough to fit giant question marks in them.

She took a hold of my forearm and squeezed gently.

"Don't start things you don't intend to finish," she whispered back at me.

It was seductive and it convinced me instantly, but I had to take a stab at her first.

"You're the one who likes to do that," I teased.

She had a tendency to start lots of things - movies, books, hobbies - that she never ended up continuing.  It was cute, but a bit strange.  Her shelf was full of all sorts of random books that you wouldn't associate with her current tastes - oil painting, French, knitting...

I eyed her hungrily now that I had permission to continue, but she seemed to become lost in thought again.  This time, however, it wasn't the same concerned distraction.  It was more pensive.  She even looked happy, like she was remembering something good.

"What are you thinking?" I asked her a question that was quickly becoming overused between us.

No answer. 

"Aya?" I asked tentatively.

No reply again.  I shrugged and then kissed her.  She twitched and woke back up.

"What are you thinking about?"

"The past three and a half years," she replied.  I was surprised that she actually answered me.

"And what in particular?" I asked.  I wanted to believe that she was thinking about me.  If she said she was, then I thought I could get through the night just fine.

"You, among other things," she replied haughtily.

Two can play at this game, I thought.

"What other things?" I asked, putting my face right up to hers in an intimidating way. 

"Fun stuff we've done," was her hasty reply.

I grinned and kept my position.

"But not as fun as this past weekend," I stated, daring her to go against my words.

"No, a different kind of fun."

Like a plummeting plane, her face suddenly dropped.  She looked upset, maybe disgusted.

Oh no, I thought in terror.  This is it.

I thought that maybe in retrospect it was all wrong to her.  Now that she could look back on a few days, she was beginning to see that it wasn't working.

For once I decided to say something about it.

"Okay, I hope the look on your face doesn't tell me how much you like what we've been doing the past few days because if it does, I'll just excuse myself and go sleep on the couch."

I started to roll off of her and get up, serious about going to sleep elsewhere, but she grabbed my shoulders and held me there.  I wanted her to let go and stop doing this to me, but as usual, just looking at her won me over.

She told me that that was not what she thought.  She kissed me firmly to show me what she thought, and then once more after I must have looked wary.  She reached her arms around me and hugged me strongly, pulling me down so that I was almost squashing her.

"You sure?" I asked.

The physical evidence was pretty convincing.  Now I just needed to hear it.

"Positive," she replied.

I could tell that she was telling the absolute truth.  She may have been a good actor, and I may have clung on hopelessly to every word she said, but I had the ability to know when she was being honest.  Right now, she was telling the truth.  Before, when I kept asking her what was wrong, I knew that she wasn't being honest. 

My heart quavered.  I tried to smile through my sadness, and I drew circles on her head.

"You're still a confusing person to be around," I murmured, a bit surprised at myself. "I'll hack into your brain someday."

Aya looked happy.  She was probably happy that I believed her.  I couldn't understand how I was helping her.  Actually, I was probably not much of a help to her at all.  Maybe she was just happy about something else and channelling that happiness towards me to make me feel better about-

No.  I had to stop thinking like that.

"I'm sorry," Aya whispered to me unexpectedly.

It was the most ambiguous apology I'd ever heard.  Was she apologizsng for insulting me by not telling me a single thing?  Did she think she'd done something wrong?  Was she about to confess and tell me whatever was on her mind?

It soon became clear that the answer to the last question was "no".  She didn't seem interested in pursuing the subject of the apology any further. 

I grew a little annoyed, but I pushed it aside.  Unconditional love, I reminded myself.  I buried my anger and focused on taking care of her.  I might not know what was going on, but she needed comforting.  She had asked me to stay by her tonight.  Stay by her is what I would do.  She needed a friend now, not a police investigation.  I was the designated best friend, so I did my job. 

No, not my job.  I did what I wanted to do.  Nobody could force me to be nice to her.  That was something I wanted to do from the bottom of my heart.  I made her feel good because that was my purpose.  I wanted nothing else in the world but to see her happy. 

I dropped the previous subject completely and snuggled my face into hers, telling her nonsense.  I talked about her pyjamas and the colours that looked good on her, followed by what matching colours would look good on me.

I then lowered my voice even though we were the only ones in my apartment.  I wanted it to seem like what I had to say was something for her only.  Nobody else had the privilege of knowing what secrets I was about to impart.

I didn't say anything too different or important.  I told her that she was special to me.  I told her things I'd feel embarrassed repeating to anyone else.  I reminded her that I was hers only, and she breathed out her response - she was mine.  I sighed in a satisfied way.  Hearing her say it, even though they were just words, reassured me.

We had a pleasant night.

Maybe it would be okay...

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2007, 01:16:20 PM »
Chapter 9 of 35

I feel warm as I think about that night. 

I had huge issues going on, yet being there with her somehow made me feel better even though she was the one causing me to worry.  It was a rough time in my life, but it was also one of the best times.  A whole new exciting adventure was starting, starring familiar characters and placed in a well known setting. 

Things stayed rough for a bit and then they just got better and better... until they sucked again after a few years.

I turn my attention back to the television.  They're playing a clip from a PV.  It's from the single that Aya released two years after the time I'm currently reminiscing about.

It's amazing how so much has changed since that time.

As if there has been no pause, I close my eyes and return to my memories.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #31 on: May 30, 2007, 01:16:55 PM »
Chapter 10

An alarm rang and someone pushed me. It woke me up just enough to notice that I was sleeping half on top of Aya.  She wiggled her arm free from under my back, untangled her legs from mine, and nudged my shoulder off of hers before reaching right over me to the small bedside table to turn the alarm clock off with a loud thump.  That action completed, she pushed the covers off, shoved me over, and got out of bed.

She didn't do a very good job of trying not to wake me up.  In fact, she didn't even make an effort.  That was it.  I got to sleep beside the wall next time.

I considered telling her off, but I was too tired.  I looked up and caught her eyes briefly, and then without a word, pulled the covers back up and over my head while turning away from her.  I drifted back into sleep to the sound of her rummaging through my drawers and closet.

I was jolted awake about forty minutes later.  Nothing in particular woke me up.  I think I just realised that I had someone over and decided that making an appearance before she left would be nice.

I dragged myself out of bed and shuffled unsteadily to the washroom.  I heard her brushing her teeth before I saw her.  I rounded the corner and walked in, not bothering to knock or say anything.  I was too grumpy.  I breezed past her and started to brush my teeth.

I started to think about last night, and I wondered if there was a chance that today was going to be the day when the tension ended and Aya either returned to normal or owned up.  I knew it had to happen eventually, and I was waiting for that time. 

I was snapped out of my thoughts by a failed attempt by Aya to say something, followed by hacking and coughing.  I looked up and saw her choking, toothpaste mixed with water and saliva running down her chin.  She jumped to the sink to spit and rinse.  I think all I could do was watch with a raised eyebrow and continue brushing my teeth smugly.  I wasn't the only one who messed up stupidly.

When she was done cleaning up, I rinsed out my mouth quickly and, while pulling my head back up, I looked directly at her.

"Pardon?" I asked in a plain, polite voice.

She looked miffed, as if I was purposely trying to bug her... which I admit I was, but not in a wholly malicious way.

"I was going to say 'good morning'."

"Hmm."

"So I repeat: good morning."

"Good morning," I said back to her.

Our greetings had been made.  She left the washroom and I went back to my bedroom, falling onto the bed lazily.  I wished that the loud sound would attract Aya's attention and make her come looking for me.  It would be easier to drag her into my bed if she was already in my room rather than dragging her all the way from the living room.  I could really use a bit of waking up, and Aya was a fun alarm clock.  She did a much better job than an actual alarm clock.  If the day started off with even just a kiss, I wouldn't be grumpy.

No such luck, though.

I sighed and got back up.  I'd have to go and find her.  That was pretty easy.  She was crouched beside her bag and reading a piece of paper.  I stood above her and waited for her to notice me.  She checked her watch and then looked up and saw me, looking mildly surprised.

"When do you leave?" I asked as soon as eye contact was made.

"Ten minutes."

Ten minutes, huh? I thought slyly.  What could we do with ten minutes?  We could do plenty.  For example, we could-

"Miki, I don't have time for anything," she said firmly, catching on to what I was thinking.

I shot her my sad puppy dog face and looked down at the floor.  It had the desired effect of making her grab my hand and pull me over to sit on the couch beside her.  I snuggled up beside her and put my head on her shoulder.

She asked me what I was doing after rehearsal and we ended up making plans to meet after I'd finished my futsal practice.  We'd go to her place and cook.

After that business, I studied her profile.  I was suddenly terrified because of two things.

One was that I'd lose her.

The other was that I loved her so much.

What if something happened to her when I wasn't around?  What if she spaced out and got hit by a bus?  What if she spiralled down a depressing path and she decided never to talk to me again...?

Before I knew it she was getting up, saying she had to leave and heading towards the door.  My heart pounding, I followed her.  Before she picked up her bag, I zoomed in and hugged her from behind.  She turned around and hugged me back.  I just held on tighter and didn't let go when she tried to pull away.

"I'll see you tonight," she laughed.

She sounded so clueless.  She didn't know what was going through my mind.  It hurt so much that she didn't know and that she couldn't tell, but I didn't blame her.  I was hiding it from her on purpose.

"Be careful, okay?" I said quietly.

"Roger that," she replied brightly.

"If you need to call me, go ahead," I reminded her, desperately trying to think of more things that I could say so that she'd be in my arms for a few seconds longer.

"Got it," she replied, this time sounding a little puzzled.  It wasn't like she needed permission to call me.

"Anything.  Okay?  If anything happens to you or if you want to talk to me about anything, I'll pick up the phone." 

This time she just nodded.  I stopped talking for a few seconds.

"I don't want anything bad to happen to you," I started again.  "I worry about you.  You know that?  I've always worried about you.  I want you to get home safely at the end of the day.  I want you to be happy.  That's the most important thing for me.  For you to be happy.  So be really careful.  Call me for anything," I begged her, "and don't be scared or worried about anything.  I'll help you."

I repeated everything over and over. 

I thought I was going to cry, but I held it in because that's the one thing I was good at - hiding things.  I hugged her harder and then pulled away, still holding her at her back, looking at her in a way that I hoped showed her a fraction of what I was feeling.

She smiled at me.  Her brightest, happiest smile.  How she could be putting on an expression like that at a time like this I did not understand.  I was miserable and there she was beaming at me.

"Thanks for being there for me, Miki-chan," she said.  "I'm really okay now.  I'll see you this afternoon.  We can hang out during our break."

I gave her a small smile because seeing her smile always made me smile, even when I didn't feel like it.  I let her go.  She picked up her bag and waved, slipping out of the door silently. 

I closed the door behind her, leaned against it and then slid down onto my butt.  I hugged my knees to my chest and swallowed down my tears.  It was too hard and some spilled out of my eyes.  I grit my teeth and clenched my fists to stop them, but it seemed to only make it worse.  I sighed.  I'd made a fool of myself right now.  She hadn't taken me seriously.

Then I realised I never got that morning kiss.  I could tell it was going to be a bad day.  I just didn't realise how bad.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #32 on: May 30, 2007, 01:17:18 PM »
Chapter 11 of 35

My stomach growls, pulling me out of that sad moment.  I rub it and think about what else I can eat.  More chocolate's out of the question.

I get off my lazy butt, ignoring the television again and going to the kitchen.  I rummage around and find some rice crackers that somebody brought me back from some business trip a few days ago.  That'll do.  I grab the box and bring it to the couch, opening it on the way.  I sit on the floor and lean against the couch, much like Aya and I would do when we were just sitting and talking. 

When we were still happy and together.

I bite down hard on a cracker.  I bite too hard and my teeth grind against each other in a painful way.  I shiver.  Goosebumps pop out of my skin all over my body.

And that reminds me of a very intense feeling I had shortly after seeing Aya off on that strange, dangerous summer day in 2005.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2007, 01:18:03 PM »
Chapter 12 of 35

I somehow made it to the studio on time.  I spent the rest of the morning moping around and being depressed.  Not even listening to my favourite music could cheer me up.  Amuro-chan just made me wish I was as strong as she was.  Putting up with no crap, living it up, loving strongly...

Once I got to the studio, I felt a little better.  Seeing the girls cheered me up a bit, even though they sometimes drove me crazy with their silliness.  At least people like Yossi and Takahashi were easy to work with.  They were a little more serious, and we were able to relate more because of our similar ages.

Halfway through our dance rehearsal, a man came into the studio and whispered something to the teacher.  The teacher looked surprised, whispered something back, and then turned to us.

"I'm sorry, girls.  There's been an emergency.  I have to go immediately.  We're finished for today."

And just like that, she was gone.  Everyone looked at each other curiously.  I stood there thankfully.  I loved impromptu breaks.

"Do you think someone died?" Koharu asked with a sad voice.

"Don't be silly," I found myself saying with a laugh.  "It's probably a plumbing accident at her house."

But I found myself wondering what had happened.  I decided not to dwell on it.  The teacher's reaction hadn't been one you'd see on the face of someone who had just received word of someone else's death.

"Okay," Koharu said, sounding cheered up.

She always listened to what I said a little too willingly.  Flattering, but a little...

"Okay, extra long break, then," Yossi announced, taking control.  "Just don't be late for whatever you've got next on your schedules."

Some of the girls cheered because they had nothing left for the day.  I sighed and shot Yossi a tired look.  She smiled sympathetically, but didn't show her exhaustion until she walked over to me and nobody could see her.  I respected that.  She had to look strong in front of the group.

"At least we can rest a bit before practice," she sighed.

"Yeah," I mumbled back.  "What are the chances of our coach's wife suddenly going into labour?"

Yossi laughed loudly at that and I grinned.  Making her laugh was one of those things high up on my list of stuff I liked to do.  She was usually the comedian, so making the funny person laugh felt good.

"What are you doing now?  Want to hang out and grab a snack before practice?" Yossi asked.  "We should get Konno and go somewhere good."

I worked it out in my head and tried to remember Aya's schedule.  She had a break coming up soon.  If possible, I wanted to see her.  Maybe she wouldn't want to see me (even though she promised me), but I had to try.

"I have some things I want to do before.  Can I meet you later?  Like in half an hour?"

Yossi checked her watch.

"Sure.  Just not too late, okay?"

I smiled and told her not to worry.  I wouldn't be more than half an hour.  We parted with that and I went back up to my dressing room.

I sat on my chair, puffing up my cheeks with air and leaning my head back as far as it would go.  I had no time to even start thinking of anything because there was a knock at my door.

"Yeah!" I called out, wondering who it was.

I stood up and watched the door open.  To my surprise, in walked Aya.  So maybe she did want to see me.

"Hi," I said almost shyly.

I scratched the back of my head and tried to fix my hair a bit.

"Hi.  You're on break?" Aya asked in a seemingly happy manner.

I told her that rehearsal had ended early.  She said I was lucky, and I snapped back playfully that I wasn't lucky when later I had to go and play a sport for two hours.

A look of glee washed over her face, and I wondered how the heck mentioning a futsal practice could make her so happy.  She put her arms around my neck and pulled me towards her so that our noses were centimetres apart.

"How much time do you have before practice?" she asked me.

I liked this question a lot.  I forgot all about the morning.  There was no way Aya was faking this.

"Two and a half hours," I said.

How much time did she have?  I wanted to ask her, but she kept talking.

"What are you going to do 'till then?"

"I don't know. I'll probably end up going out for food with Yocchan and whoever else," I replied vaguely with a shrug.

What I really wanted was for her to suggest we do something, even if just for the brief fifteen or twenty minutes she had as a break.  It could be anything.  We could go outside, or stay inside...

"No fair. I want to join you guys. No, wait. I want to have you to myself," she said with an adorable pout that made me melt.

I grabbed her waist and squeezed.

"You'll get me all to yourself later" I reminded her, happy that the bad feelings from this morning were all gone.  "If you even bother to pay attention to me," I added.

It was the stupidest thing I'd ever done.  Twenty years of life and that's the one sentence that I think ruined everything.  This one little trying-to-be-funny joke.

She stopped smiling and looked pissed off, letting go of me.  I quickly tried to make amends, but it was too late.  Almost like an outside observer, I watched the situation spin out of control right before me.

"Aya... I didn't mean..." I started.

I didn't know what to say.  I felt so bad for making her angry.

The situation just got worse.

"It doesn't matter," she said darkly with a shake of the head.

"I didn't mean it like that," I repeated, hoping my tone would prove to her that I was really sorry.

"It doesn't matter what you meant," she bit back.

I was suddenly swept up by a wave of anger.  How dare she get angry with me.  It was just a joke.  Besides, she'd been making me angry all this time and I'd never let her know.  This was the end of the line for me.

"Well, if it wasn't true, then I wouldn't have said it."

It crumbled from there.

"I'm having a rough week. You could at least be a little more sympathetic," she whined. 

I looked at her with a mix of disbelief, pain, and a dash of 'oh my god, you are so stupid' feelings.

"I'm trying to, Aya, but you won't let me."

It wasn't fair.  How did she have the right to ask for my sympathy now when she wouldn't accept it before?  Was she blind?  An idiot?

Then her stupid phone rang.  When she flipped it open, I wanted to rip if out of her hands, throw it on the floor, and make her pay attention to me, not some absent person.  I watched her, seething, as she read her message, willing her to hurry up so that we could continue our argument.

She closed her phone and looked up to me.

"I have to go."

What?! I thought.

She couldn't go.  Not now.  Not in the middle of something like this.  This was more important than anything else she might have to do. 

I was supposed to be more important...

Depression gripped my heart.  Tears of anger and sadness wanted to spill out so badly.

"I thought you had a longer break," I said as expressionlessly as I could.

"I do," Aya sighed.  "I have to go see someone now."

I couldn't look at her anymore.  I walked over to my dresser and started to rummage through the papers I had there.  It was obvious that I was pretending, but I had to do something to keep my eyes off of her - my eyes hidden from hers - because I felt the first of my tears coming.  I couldn't stop them.

"Come on, Miki. I'm not ignoring you. I'm not ditching you. I just have to go," she said with a sigh.

As if that was supposed to make me feel better.  The angry tears fell down my cheeks, out of control as I desperately tried to retain control.

"Okay. Bye," I said quickly.

I hoped I didn't sound choked up.  I was glad that my hair was long.  It served as a good cover, shielding my weak state from her.

She lingered in the room for a second and then I heard her turn away and leave quietly.  I waited for twenty seconds after the door closed and then I pushed everything off the dresser angrily, letting out a muffled growl.  Papers and other miscellaneous items fell to the floor and I put my palms down and bent over, letting myself cry, letting my tears wet the shiny surface.

For the first time since I met her, I hated her.  I hated her because she made me care so much and then shoved that care back at me when she didn't think she needed it.  I hated her because I couldn't hate her.

I continued to cry for about five minutes, at which point I stopped abruptly.  I had to go out and face everyone as if everything was normal.  I couldn't be seen with red-rimmed eyes.  I had to look my normal self.  People were nosey, and they'd want to know why I was upset.  I couldn't tell them I had fought with Aya because they'd ask about what, and there was no good way to tell them without giving away too much.

I sobered up and called Yossi, making plans to meet her and Konno at the front of the building.  We had a pleasant time going for coffee and eating snacks, but I was distracted for most of it.  My mind kept going back to the dressing room incident.

Futsal practice was what did me in.  Running around for over two hours didn't purge me of these angry and depressed feelings.  It worsened them.  And what's more, the more I sweat and the more I moved around, the more I just wanted to grab somebody, bring them to bed with me, and do things with them that were inappropriate things to think about during a practice.  Of course that somebody had to be Aya.  I couldn't understand it myself.  I was so angry at her, but the thought of her seemed to appeal to me even more.

Practice ended with Yossi asking me if I was okay.  She'd definitely noticed my feelings.  I told her part of the truth - that I had had a fight with a friend and I was just trying to get over it.  She sensed that I didn't want to talk about it and so she left it at that, telling me to get some rest before tomorrow.  I couldn't even smile at her, but I nodded and told her to also get some rest because she worked too hard. 

I was the third of the girls to leave for the day.  Everyone said goodbye.  I wandered out and decided what to do next.

There was almost no question what I had to do.  I felt this pressing need inside of me.  It threatened to turn into something dangerous if I didn't satisfy it soon.  Aya and I had promised to hang out at her apartment.  The last thing I wanted to do was to hang out with her and get even angrier, but the only thing I wanted to do was to hang out with her.  It was a bad situation to be in.

My desire overcame any other factor, and I found myself walking to the train line that would take me to her place.  The outside world disappeared to me.  I could only think about what I would do.

What would I do?

I could try to fix things a bit before moving on to other things.

Maybe I'd try that out, first.  Keep my cool no matter how hard it was.

Her apartment appeared before me too quickly.  I had no time to practice what to say and do.  Without hesitation, though, I rang the doorbell.  It was just before nine.  She'd be home.

Aya opened the door and looked very surprised to see me.  She had no doubt thought I wouldn't be coming over.  She invited me in and I stepped in without a word, my face stoic as ever.

"What time did you finish practice?" she asked.

She sounded almost nervous, and that made me glad.

"About thirty minutes ago," I replied, my voice sounding hollow to even my ears.

I swallowed my feelings down, telling myself to be patient and wait.

She asked about dinner, but I declined.  I didn't need food.  I put my bag down and took a seat on the couch after being invited.

"What were you doing?" I asked.

It was like I was conducting an interview with a stranger.  I let nothing show on my face.

"I was about to watch TV," Aya said in a small voice, so I grabbed the remote and found the first interesting program that I could.

I didn't watch.  I kept my eyes on the screen, but all my senses were directed at Aya.  I could feel something going on inside of her.  Her head was churning with thoughts.  Just like mine.  I could tell.  The air felt different, and it wasn't just me.

"If you're still bothered about today..." I muttered without meaning to.

It sounded like I was starting an apology.  I cut myself off quickly and left it to her interpretation.

"No, I've forgotten about that."

I don't know if that answer relieved me or if it hurt me more.  It was good that she'd forgotten we'd fought.  Fights were nasty, unpleasant things.  But I couldn't get it out of my mind.  There were still unresolved issues.  How could she forget them?  I'd gone so far as to cry over it.  Had she even cared?  Did she care enough about me to be worried?  I couldn't tell.

"Then can you say something to me?" I asked.

I wanted to hear what was on her mind.  I thought that in light of having had an argument like that, she'd decide to be a bit more open.  I'd practically confronted her about her issue.  Maybe she had something to say about it.

"Like what?" she asked stupidly.

I kept my cool.  No use messing it up again.

"Anything. Just tell me something."

"Um... I went out with the girls for dinner.  Hitomi got a new boyfriend and so we went out to celebrate."

I counted to five before saying anything.  If I'd spoken right away, I would've screamed at her.

"Could you tell me something else? Something about you? Not other people?" I demanded in a calm voice.

"Like what? What do you want me to tell you?" she asked, sounding aggravated.

"Anything!" I exploded. "For heaven's sake, Aya, just talk to me."

Just tell me things like you used to.  Tell me anything that really matters to you.  Please... I thought desperately.

I couldn't take this wishy-washy business anymore.  I wanted my old Aya back, but I was becoming very afraid that she'd never come back.

And then she told me that she spilled water on herself during the day.

I couldn't believe it.  I kept my mouth shut because even counting for five minutes could not have prevented me from saying something insulting in a loud voice.  I must've glared at her, and I turned my attention back to the television. I didn't want to look at her.

We watched the program until it finished an hour later.  I sat there with my raging anger and feeling like I was alone.  I wanted to punch a wall.  I wanted to slap her.  I wanted to kiss her.  I wanted to force her to tell me everything.  Force her in ways I'd never considered before.

Once the ending credits rolled, I checked to see if Aya was even in the room.  She was.  She turned her head to me.  My eyes looked over her bedroom for the briefest of milliseconds, and I wondered how many seconds it would take me to pull her in there.  I quickly looked back at her.  I didn't think it would have been obvious, but her eyes widened the slightest bit.  She must have been wondering what I was thinking.

I turned the TV off and we got up wordlessly, getting ready for bed.  I ignored her the entire time and went through my routine as if she wasn't there.  She seemed to shrink away from me, and I laughed evilly inside.  It served her right.  I hoped she was frightened.  I hoped she was feeling lonely.  She deserved it after making me feel the exact same thing.

She got into the bed first.  I would have told her to not worry and that I was going to sleep on the floor, but the thing inside me told me to go to bed with her.  There was more of a chance.  I slipped in quickly after killing the lights and turned away from her, pulling the sheets up to my neck and hurting from the incredible tension I felt.

"Good night."

And that was it.  She didn't reply.  I lay there with my eyes open, trying to regulate my breathing in a calm way.  There was so much I wanted to do and say.  I wanted to yell at her and tell her how angry I was.  How scared and worried I was.  And then I wanted to literally rip her clothes off so that I could feel like I could do something.  Have some sort of power.  I wanted to feel like I was good for something.

I only made myself feel angrier because the thought of her keeping me around for only some physical reason was too painful to bear.

I didn't think she'd do it, but she did.  She touched me.  About ten minutes after I'd said good night I felt the mattress move and her body come close to mine.  She put her hand on my arm under the covers and ran it down to hold onto my hand.  I felt lips touch my neck lightly. 

I rolled over onto my back to get a look at her face.  Whatever she was thinking, I was hoping it was written all over it.  I wanted to take it and use it against her somehow.

What I saw made me angrier and even more excited.  She was looking meek and unsure and needy.  She was looking apologetic.  She was looking like a mouse would while kissing a hungry tiger.  That was exactly how I wanted her.  No, exactly how I needed her.  I found myself starting to lose my control.  Something was going to happen and I wasn't sure what.

She kissed my neck again and moved her lips up.  I remained rigid, my emotions boiling just under my skin.  She lifted herself up and put her hands on either side of head.  She looked down at me.  I stared straight through her.  This didn't seem to change her mind and she kissed my lips, closing her eyes.  I reacted in no way.  I stared up, my eyes wide open and filled with the close up sight of her closed eyes. 

I cursed her in my mind.  She was such a perfectionist.  Her and her perfect kisses.  Even when I wasn't cooperating, she could do something like that so well.

Her hand played with the bottom of my tank top and pulled it up.  I felt like I had about ten seconds before I exploded.  She put a hand on my stomach.  Blood started to rush through my head.  I could barely think of anything else anymore.  I couldn't hear anything.  She pushed her hand up my stomach and an alarm went off in my head. 

The dam broke and everything inside of my head just rushed out through the widening gap.

I grabbed her hand and took it away from my stomach.  I pushed her off of me and onto her back, getting on top of her.  I can't even remember if I was breathing or not.  I pinned her hands down above her head and stared down at her.  I didn't know what to do first.  I didn't know what I wanted.  Did I want to say something to her?  Did I want to hurt her?  Did I want to do something nice?

I think I wanted to do a mix of good and bad.  Aya looked weak.  I liked that.  It filled me with that power I was looking for.  I needed to show her that I wasn't going to be passive and wait for her.  I had my needs.

I lowered my head and kissed her back.  Hard.  My eyes were wide open.  I didn't want to hurt her too much.  Just enough to make her remember that I was there.  I didn't want her to drift off and ignore me like she'd been doing all week.  I squeezed her hands and she opened up her eyes looking scared.  I took my hands away from hers and put them on her shoulders.  I bit down her neck making sure to suck at her skin long enough to leave marks.  I didn't care how she explained the marks the next day.  It was the last thing on my mind.  All I wanted to do was put something on her than would stay.  It would be proof that I had been there.  That I had had the privilege of being so close to her.

I heard the breath catch in her throat.  I willed her with my mind and my lips to say something.  To cry out in pain or to complain.  She did not, though.  She was disciplined that night, the girl was.  It just made me want her more.

I bit down on her arm.  She tensed up and I thought I heard her make a sound, but nothing more.

Damn you.  React, you moron! I thought angrily.

Why wasn't she giving me the responses I wanted to hear?  If she didn't, I'd just keep going and pressing harder.  I kissed her lips again, this time even harder.

I felt words flow out from my mouth.

"No matter what you do, you still drive me crazy," I growled to her, digging my fingers into her shoulders.  "You turn me on like mad."

It was the honest truth.  I moved my hands so that they were beside her ears. 

Don't you have anything to say? I asked her in my mind.  Don't you want to tell me that you want me?  Or don't you want to tell me to stop?

She didn't acknowledge my words at all, but maybe that's because I was kissing - practically biting - her, my lips and tongue fighting for dominance.  I was suffocating the both of us in as pleasant a way I could think of.  She put her timid hands at my waist.  I felt like I'd won a battle.  She was alive and reacting.  She wasn't pushing me away.  She was accepting.  She was paying attention.

Yet I wanted her to push me away.  Or at least I wanted her to try.

I smothered her with me.  All of me.  I now began to move my hands all over her body.  I scratched at her, although that I didn't do it too hard.  It was too easy to break skin with nails and I wasn't willing to leave her with that kind of injury.  Despite all the anger and all the hatred that was spilling over the surface, in my heart I could feel all my love and worry.  It was buried, but still alive.  I didn't want to really hurt her.  Not permanently.  She was my perfect Aya. 

My Aya?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

And that's why I was angry.  Because I didn't know.  Because she wouldn't tell me.  She told me with words, but she didn't prove it.  She didn't show me.

I suddenly felt her squirm.  She tried to get up.  I looked at her face and saw that she was sweating.  It was a hot summer evening and she hadn't turned the air conditioning on when she'd gotten home.  I realised I was sweating, too, and I wondered how much we could do before we passed out from the heat.  I kept my hold on her.

"I'm hot," she gasped.  "I need to-" but I put my hand over her mouth, squeezing her arm with my other hand.

I didn't want her to talk.  I didn't want her to do anything she wanted to do.  I wanted her to be uncomfortable.  If I could handle the heat, Aya could handle the heat. 

I dragged my hand down her body over her shirt.  I reached the bottom and took a handful of it.  I then tugged up hard.  The flimsy thing made a tearing sound.  I dug my fingers into the hole that I'd started.  I brought my other hand over and widened the hole, shredding the thing and pulling it right off of her.  I tossed the ruined shirt off to the side as she looked at me in shock.  I stared her down and dared her to say something.  She stared back into my eyes and said nothing.  I could see the fear in her eyes, though.  It made me feel good.  I smiled and put my hands on her bare stomach.  There was a light film of sweat covering it.  I licked my lips and started kissing her from her neck all the way down.

When I reached her abdomen, I licked the sweat off of her skin, and her muscles twitched.  I grinned.  Even her involuntary muscle spasms were under my control.  I didn't stop there.  She was wearing jogging shorts but I didn't care.  I scooted down and grabbed her thigh with my hands.  I lowered my head and bit down hard right into the fleshy part.  She cried out, sounding like she was half in pain, half enjoying it, and I heard a crash.  I looked up to see that her arm had swept out from surprise and hit everything on her bedside table.  I scooted back up and started to bite her arm. 

That was when she started to push me away.  She put her hand on my shoulder and tried to force me off of her.  I batted her hand away and it soon came to rest on my shoulder, only to push me again thirty seconds later.

Of course I didn't let her get away with it.  She managed to push me up enough to curl halfway up, but I pushed her back down forcefully.

"Don't leave me," I whispered harshly into her ear as I kissed it, bit at it, sucked on her earlobe.

I wasn't speaking much that night, so I chose every word I said with great care.

Don't leave me, I thought.  Don't go off and think that you don't need me anymore.  You need me.  Just as much as I need you.

That's what I tried to convince myself.

Aya tried to push me off of her again.

"Stop it," she demanded, this time struggling with a little more force.

"No," I said with my lips curling up in a sneer.

I won again.  She stopped.  She caved in.

In fact, she did a complete reverse.  She started to sneak her hands up my shirt.  I stopped her by hitting them off.  She didn't get to do that.  Not yet.  Maybe not at all.

I continued.

I don't know how we managed to both survive so long, but much much later, after completely dominating her in every single way I could think of and making her gym shorts join the torn t-shirt somewhere on the floor, I stopped.  I sat on her, although making sure not to press down with my whole weight.  I leant forward and put my hands on her chest, pushing her down, trapping her underneath me.

I had a change of heart all of a sudden.  I sat there looking down at her, her face twisted in a strange expression.  She looked tired and hurt but awake and satisfied.  She looked confused, but she looked like she knew exactly what she wanted.  Ultimately, she looked like herself.  She looked like Aya. 

Some tender side of me busted through all my anger and I brought a hand up to her face.  She flinched slightly, not knowing what to expect, but I just touched her gently, feeling my sadness take a hold of my heart again.  I tried to project my pain from my eyes, but she either didn't see it or didn't care.  I ran my fingers across her lips and wished that she would open them and say something to me.

I got off and lay down next to her, putting my cheek to hers, my lips near her ear.  I thought of a million things to say.  I said none.

At last, she reacted.  I felt her finger touch my hand.  It was such a small yet such a significant gesture.  She picked up my hand and squeezed it in that gentle way that only she could master.  I lifted my head up and looked at her, my expression unchanging.

Say something, I told her in my mind.  I told her with my eyes.

But she said nothing.

The sound of rushing blood came back to my head and I felt myself become consumed by my fury again.  I squeezed her hand back in an ungentle way and brought it up over her head, exposing her whole right side.  I held her wrist tightly with one hand and tickled my other hand down her body.  I teased her skin, giving it a break from my scratching and rubbing, letting it feel that pleasant tingle that tickling brought.  At the same time, I dug my nails into her wrist.  I watched her closely and saw the struggle between pain and pleasure in her eyes.  I kept a close eye on that balance.  I wanted to hurt her, but not really.  Nothing beyond a few seconds of pain.  Nothing scarring.

I let go of her wrist and my lips followed the path of my hand.

And after twenty minutes of torturing her, teasing her, making her want to kill me, I gave her break.

For about five seconds. 

I then pushed down on her shoulders and kissed her wildly, violently.

"At least I can have you this way," I mumbled as I did so.

If she wouldn't give me what was inside of her, I'd take what I could.  I wanted more than that, but I had to settle for second best.  This fuelled the fire of my rage and I really started to hurt her, rubbing her entire body in what was a cross between a massage and torture, kissing every single inch, biting whatever parts I could.

"Stop!" she cried out suddenly in anguish.

She said she couldn't take it any more, but her voice sang an entirely different tune.  It told me to keep going.  It told me she wanted it more than anything.  She needed it.

I slithered up her body slowly like a snake and looked her in the face.  Her eyes were shut tight until she realised my presence.  She opened them up.  I narrowed my eyes at her and I pinched her side hard.  She breathed in sharply in pain.  I took her bottom lip and bit it.  She gasped.  I sucked on it.  She whimpered.  I flashed her an unkind smile and moved down.  Instead of pushing me away, she clutched me to her.  That was it.  The final gesture that told me that whatever I did now, she'd readily accept.

And so I finished her off.  I drove her off the brink.  I shut her mind down.  I made her see stars.  Whatever way you care to look at it, though, I won.  She yelled out something - to this day I have no idea what - and then her hold on me weakened.  Her arms collapsed by her sides and I slowly got up to watch her.  She seemed to float around, her eyes unable to focus on anything.  They glazed over.  I brought a hand up to her face and put them over her eyes, encouraging her to close them.  It took no effort to make her do it.  As soon as her eyes were closed, I was sure she wouldn't open them until the next morning.  I watched as her breathing slowed down.  It first hit a normal pace, and then it got slower and slower until I knew she was asleep.

I sat cross-legged beside her.  I could see the sweat glistening on her body.  I could see marks that had started to form.  From her legs to her neck to her arms.  I'd spared no part of her.  As I continued to stare at her unclothed body, something in me started to grow.  The anger had gone.  The sadness was still there.  I wondered what this new thing I felt was.  I was confused.  I thought I'd needed some sort of release and that I should wake her up to help me, but after further thought, I saw that that's not what it was.

I felt guilt. 

I looked at the tiny marks all over her, and I realised that I'd done that.  I'd made her look like that.  I'd hurt her.  My stomach churned in an unpleasant way and I almost ran to the washroom to throw up.  How could I have done something so brutal?

I began to shiver uncontrollably as I stared at Aya.  I felt my heart melt.  I started to cry.  How could I say I loved her when I'd done that to her?  How could I ever face her again?  What would I do tomorrow?  Was it better to leave before it was too late and she woke up?

I couldn't move from her side, though.  I had an eerie feeling that if I left, she'd never wake up.  She'd die in her sleep and I'd never see her again. 

Still shaking, I lay down beside her.  I was afraid to touch her and wake her up, so I curled up as far away as possible and watched her.  Her chest rose and fell as she breathed, and I sighed in relief because it reminded me she was alive. 

I noticed that it was really hot in the room and that despite my shivering, I was sweating like crazy.  I got up carefully and turned the air conditioning on.  I lay back down and watched Aya.

After ten minutes, when the room started to get a little cooler, I drew the covers up quickly and covered the both of us.  I rested my head on the extra pillow that Aya had bought when I started sleeping over a few years ago.  She usually stored it when I didn't stay over, but I noticed that she seemed to have left it on her bed the past week.  It was my open invitation.  As long as the pillow remained there beside hers, I could go over to her place as I liked.

I was afraid that invitation had just expired.

I tried to calm down and enjoy what I thought would be my last night with her.  That consisted of lying there and watching her sleep.

Being friends after such a night? 

I was positive that wouldn't work out.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2007, 01:18:25 PM »
Chapter 13 and 35

I shudder as I remember that night.  It's something I'm not proud of having done.  Out of all the stupid and horrible things I've done to Aya (and I have made my fair share of mistakes), that's the worst.  Nothing else comes close to it.  Even though I felt at the time I didn't want to hurt her, I did hurt her.  She suffered a lot because of me. 

The physical pain was fleeting, lasting only a few seconds (and okay, maybe she felt a little sore the next morning, but I prefer not to dwell on that fact).  However, the marks were an embarrassment to her.  She told me much later when we were more comfortable talking about that "incident" that she'd received questions from Shibata about them. 

Also, the psychological damage, while not lifelong, did take a while to get over.  When we eventually healed our friendship and got closer again a month later, she did have a lingering fear of me doing that again.  We talked about it, though, and she got over it quickly.  She knew that I did not want to hurt her.  But for the short while that she was scared, I felt so low...

I stretch my arms up and yawn.  It's still too early to go to bed, but I'm getting tired.  It has been a long day.  I think of my empty bed and I'm filled with a familiar loneliness that I haven't felt for a long time.

If I had been a better person, Aya would be here beside me.

No.  I cannot let myself start thinking like that again.  It wasn't me.

I laugh bitterly at myself because I'm being silly.  I return to my memories.  For some reason they seem easier to deal with tonight.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2007, 01:18:57 PM »
Chapter 14 of 35

I didn't sleep at all.  I lay there freezing cold and terrified, sometimes watching Aya, sometimes closing my eyes and trying to sleep, sometimes putting my hands on my head and squeezing it while staring at the ceiling.  All the time I wondered how I could have done what I had done.

I kept an eye on the clock.  I had to be up early for recording at the studio.  Much earlier than Aya.  There was a chance that I might have to leave before she woke up.  I prayed that that would be the case.

I watched as Aya rolled over.  Her facial expression didn't change.  She turned to face towards me, her arms curled up at her chest, her hands crossed in front of her face.  It was sweet until I noticed the little marks along her upper arm.

I began to think.  If Aya had really wanted to get out of the situation, she could have.  She could have used all her strength to push me.  She could have kept repeating herself.  She could have kicked me out.  But she didn't.  She'd given in, even asked for it wordlessly by pulling me to her.  So in a way, couldn't my guilt be relieved a little?

But no... I'd still forced her.  I'd tricked her.  I'd convinced her.  I'd... something.  I was in the wrong.

I spent the night in torment, and I was almost glad when Aya turned away from me.

"Almost" because seeing her back filled me with sadness.  The sheets slid down so that her bare back was exposed to me.  It was on the whole smooth, but there was one scratch mark.  Right below her left shoulder blade.  I hadn't broken the skin, but it looked painful.  It had been accidental.  I had tried to move her more to the centre of the bed, and when I'd gripped her ribs and pulled, my nail had dug into her back, making her cry out in pain. 

It was still red.

I reached out a hand and put my fingers on it lightly.  This made a muscle on her back twitch, and I became ice cold with fear of her waking up.  I clenched my toes as she rolled onto her back.  I took my hand away quickly.

"Miki," she said out loud.

I froze in shock.  I had woken her up.  I was really going to get it now.

"Yeah?" I croaked out.

"Why's the sky blue?"

This caught me completely off guard.  What?! I thought.

"Um..." I started.

"Is it because of the blueberries?" she asked seriously.

I wanted to laugh even in my fright.  She was sleep talking.  She didn't do it that often.

"Yeah," I said softly.  "It's the blueberries."

She looked right at me, her eyes open as if she were perfectly awake.  I couldn't hate her.  Not when she looked like a child.

"Why?" she pressed.

I swallowed hard and tried to stay calm.

"There were too many here.  We had to send them up to the sky and they spilled on the way," I explained soothingly as if making up a fairy tale for a six-year-old child.

"Oh," she said, her expression unchanging.  "Why did the bird fly?"

For a second I thought she was messing with me.  I thought she was awake and just trying to make me look stupid.  I dropped my suspicion, however, because her eyes were too wide and too innocent.  Nobody could act that well.

I reached out and touched her face.

"Because it was free," I answered her.

For the first time in my life I understood what it might mean to have a little kid truly dependent on you for all the answers.

"Oh," she said with a smile, and her eyes began to droop drowsily.  "I wanted to fly, too..."

I tried not to frown.

"You can," I said gently.  "If you go back to sleep, you can."

I took my hand away from her face and pulled the blanket up under her chin.

"I was... doing that..." she trailed off.

Her eyes closed completely and she was once again unconscious to the world.

I bit my lip to keep from crying.  From sobbing.

What had I done to her?

She didn't say anything else all night.  She moved around a bit, but not restlessly.  The normal amount she did on any given night.  I stayed there thinking and berating myself until a quarter to six in the morning.

I couldn't handle it anymore so I got up and took a shower.  I got dressed quietly in her room and then went to sit on the couch.  I realised I was starving, having not eaten dinner the night before.

I felt bad helping myself to her food, so I ran out to the convenience store.  I bought some food and drink and brought it back to her apartment building.  I sat outside and finished my onigiri and coffee before going back in.  It took twenty minutes to finish eating.  I lost my appetite halfway through, but forced myself to consume everything since I'd regret it later if I didn't.

I went back into her apartment (which I'd left unlocked) and decided to pack up my things and leave.  I had to go into her room to get my pyjamas.  I'd pack those up and just go.  Not say a word, not leave a note.  I'd wait for her to e-mail me in a rage, or some other such horrid thing.

I walked into her room quietly, my eyes on the various clothing on the floor, and I knelt down to collect my own.  I started to fold my pyjamas when I felt a change.  I looked up and saw Aya watching me from the bed.  My heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach.  I had to apologise.
 
"Morning" is what came out of my mouth.  That sounded nothing like "I'm sorry".

"Good morning," she replied.

She sounded terrified.  I didn't know what to say so I went back to folding.  Within no time, Aya got out of bed and walked by me.  I didn't dare look at her.  I saw her bare legs and that was enough to tell me to keep my eyes on the floor.  I heard her put some clothes on and then go to the washroom.  I shuddered at the thought of her looking in the mirror and finding that there wasn't enough make up in the world to cover up what I'd done to her.

I finished folding my pyjamas, but I was so nervous that I started to clean her room up.  There were just a few things out of order.  First, I got the various pieces of clothing that I'd taken (or ripped) off of her and put them in a pile.  Aya walked in while I was doing this, and without a word, she took the small pile right out of my hands before I could fold them for her.  I kept one eye on her and watched as she went to fold them and found they were torn.  She shoved them under her pillow.  She looked embarrassed.  She looked over at me and I quickly averted my eyes, moving off to clean up the mess by the bedside table.  She'd knocked everything off by accident.

This is stupid I thought.

I had to talk to her.  I couldn't keep acting like nothing had happened.  We needed to talk.  I needed to say I was sorry.

I turned around to open up a conversation with a genuine apology, but I was too late.  She had just left the room.  I didn't call out to her or get up to follow her because I chickened out.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't apologise.  The reason why was because I was afraid I wouldn't be forgiven.

I quickly organized her alarm clock and random junk on her bedside table and left her room quickly.  Aya was standing in the kitchen with a glass that I assumed had been full of water or juice before she drank it all.

"I'll see you later," I mumbled to her, grabbing my bag and putting my shoes on quickly.

Without waiting for a reply, I left.  I was so sure she'd never forgive me for that, too.  For leaving so abruptly.

Once outside of her apartment, I ran.  I ran like crazy.  I don't think I stopped for twenty minutes, and I had no idea what direction I was going in.  I just ran and tried not to cry.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #36 on: May 30, 2007, 01:19:21 PM »
Chapter 15 of 35

My phone ring and jolts me out of my mind.  I stand up and walk over to it, staring at it and debating whether or not to pick it up.  After five rings, I decide to go for it.

"Hello?"

It's Takamura Akiko.

From Clean Shiny Thing Service.

She's trying to sell me a gas range cleaning service.  She informs me that I'll feel much safer cooking for my husband and children if my kitchen is clean.  I decline her offer politely, rolling my eyes when she's shocked that I'm not married (what is it with this Nakazawa Yuuko effect?  Is it so sinful to not be married at age thirty-three??).  We both hang up, both feeling frustrated.

Frustration is something I've learned to deal with.  The past eight years have been full of it.  There have been some really good times, but there have been some really rotten ones.  Sometimes I wish I'd just find some guy and get married and settle down like a normal girl.  Maybe it would calm me down, tame me.

But I am driven insane by the thought of living with somebody.  People bother me too much if they're clinging to me all the time.  There have been very few people in my life who haven't managed to bother me by spending too much time with me.  One of them is Aya.

I go and sit on the floor.  When we were together, Aya drove me nuts in a bad way, too, but it was always forgivable.  Even when she did the most awful things (or when I thought she did the most awful things), there was always something that made it all okay in the end...

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2007, 01:19:53 PM »
Chapter 16 of 35

I got to the studio absolutely exhausted.  I was sweating, my arms and legs weak.  I sat down on the couch in the inner lobby and closed my eyes, waiting for the rest of the girls to arrive.

I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, somebody was jumping on top of me and I heard laughter.  I opened my eyes to see Tsuji sitting in my lap.

"What the-" I started, but before I could continue, she jumped off and ran off screaming like a banshee.

"Wee haaaa!" came a shriek from behind me, and somebody else landed on me, pushing me back against the couch painfully.

"Sorry, Fujimoto-san!!" the girl yelled, not sounding apologetic at all.

It was Koharu.  She jumped off me instantly and pursued Tsuji through the foyer.  I couldn't believe it.  The two were chasing each other like two-year-olds and using me as a launching pad.

"Watch where you're going!!" I yelled angrily after them.

I was beyond just a little grumpy.

"They're like wild animals," a quiet voice said from beside me.

I almost jumped in the air.  I turned my head and saw Yossi sitting beside me, her legs crossed and her gaze focused on the receding figures of Tsuji and Koharu.

"Uh, good morning.  Yeah, they are," I stuttered.

She must have sat down while I was asleep.  I wondered how long she'd been there.

"Good morning, Miki-chan.  You look like hell," she jumped in frankly.  "What happened to you?  Did you schmooze all night long and end up in the wrong bed?" she joked.

"I didn't sleep, okay?" I scowled at her.

"I can tell that much," she said with a roll of the eyes.

I sighed.

"I didn't party, if that's what you're thinking.  I'm a little more responsible than that."

Yossi shrugged.

"Can I ask what happened?"

I laughed in my head.  You can ask, but you don't want to know.

"I argued with a friend.  I couldn't sleep because I was upset," I explained briefly.

Yossi crossed her arms and we were silent for a moment.

"This friend of yours.  Her name wouldn't happen to start with 'Matsu' and end with 'ura', would it?"

Stupid Yocchan, I thought.  Getting too curious.  I got angry but kept my cool on the outside.

"So what if it was?" I asked defensively.

"I knew it!" she said triumphantly.

"Knew what?!" I spat back.

"That you guys were fighting.  Come on, how long have I known you now?  I just knew it."

I crossed my arms and frowned.  I wondered how she could tell.

"So what's your issue?" she pried.  "Why are you fighting?"

I shifted uncomfortably.

"We just disagree on some things," I lied.  "Nothing big."

"Yeah, right," Yossi chuckled.

I shot her a look of death.

"Fine, don't believe me.  I don't care.  It's none of your business anyway."

She got the hint and shut up, looking at me blankly.  I returned to my brooding.

"You're really upset, aren't you," she said after a minute.

I was surprised to hear such a soft tone coming from her.  Even in serious moments, she always kept her voice strong, or at least with a light lilt to it.  I shrugged.

"Best friends don't treat each other the way we've been treating each other lately," I replied honestly.

"Hmm," Yossi started.  "I'm no expert, but maybe you should just talk to her about why you're upset.  Maybe she wants to talk, too."

You are so wrong, I thought bitterly. So wrong.

"Yeah, maybe you're right."

"Anyway," Yossi continued, clasping my shoulder and pushing me up, "let's go warm up.  We've got an important job to do."

I let myself be dragged to the recording room where we met the other girls.  We all warmed up together.

My distraction knew no bounds.  My exhaustion contributed to making me look like a fool.  I fell asleep waiting for my turn in the recording booth.  I spaced out when people were talking to me.  I was personally scolded six times by various authorities.

During our breaks I checked my phone obsessively.  No messages.  I wanted a message.  Even a message that said "I hate you", because then that way I'd know how she felt.

At the end of the day, despite having done so much work, I felt like I'd accomplished nothing.  All I thought about that day was how I wanted to apologise to Aya and try to set things right with her. 

I avoided everyone as much as possible.  Yossi seemed to have realised that I wasn't going to say anything more to her about my problem, so she dropped the questions and was super nice to me.  I guess just to comfort me in an indirect way.  It was too embarrassing to say "don't worry, I'm still your friend" out loud, so instead she showed me.  I always liked that about her.  We had similar thresholds of tolerance for mushy crap like that.

At exactly five past six, I left everyone.  Our work was done.

At six past six, I decided I wouldn't wait for a message.  I would go right up to the sixth floor where the dance rehearsals took place because I knew Aya was there.  I'd seen the schedule ahead of time.

I picked up my bag and went to the elevator while planning out exactly what I was going to say and do.

It was simple.  I was going to knock at the door, ask to speak to Aya, pull her aside, and say plainly - but genuinely - that I was very sorry about what I did last night and that we could talk sometime whenever she was free.  I would tell her not to make any decision now, but to just mail or call me when she wanted to say something.  Then I'd leave.

The elevator came and I rode it up.  I started to get nervous, but I swallowed down the butterflies.  This had to be done.  I'd been bad.  Now I was paying the price.

I got out of the elevator and sensed something different.  I could hear muffled talking.  At first I thought it was coming from a room nearby, but the closer I got to the change room area, the louder it got.

Halfway there, I realised the two people were speaking very loudly.  They sounded angry, or at least their debate was heated.  One of the voices I knew very very well.  It was Aya's voice.  The other belonged to a girl I didn't know as well - Shibata.

I strained my ears to try and hear what they were saying, but I couldn't quite make it out.  As I got closer, the words became clear.

"...can't tell your best friend that you want to leave. You put those things in your own mind. I didn't do it. Maybe you're not ready to leave."

What was Shibata talking about?  Aya's best friend.  That was me, right?  Leave.  Go where?  Leave me?  Shibata didn't know anything about us.  Was Aya planning a trip she hadn't told me about?  What was going on?  I started to feel strange.

"I do want to leave!" Aya yelled.

I had no idea what she was talking about, but her voice sounded like how she'd looked for the past week: anxious, worried, scared, angry.  I hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but I slowed my pace and listened to their argument. 

"I want out of this Project. I've outgrown it. I have outgrown everything we're made to do. I can't stay in it any longer if I want to go anywhere in my life. I'm just worried that there'll be no place for me out in the real world."

I froze. 

Out of this Project.  Outgrown it.  Can't stay in it any longer.

She wanted to leave H!P.  And she was telling Shibata, not me.  They seemed pretty comfortable arguing over the subject.  It was as if they'd talked about it before.  Was this what Aya was stressing out over?  If so, how long had she been wanting to quit?  Why hadn't she told me?  It was the easiest thing to do...

I became furious.  It wasn't the fury of last night.  This time I didn't want to even be in the same building as her, I was so mad. 

How could she?  How could she...?

"Stop coming to me and telling me you want to leave. If you want to leave, go talk to our boss. Go quit like you want to. Go rise above us in every way possible!" Shibata encouraged her.

This is not happening, I thought faintly.  Aya had decided to confide in Shibata.  Not me. 

While I considered myself to be a mildly jealous person (I just couldn't help getting jealous - even when we first became friends - if someone else took Aya's time from me), I had never felt any kind of jealousy like this.  So different from what I'd felt before.

I wanted to punch a wall, punch both of them, and scream.

I stared at the two of them in their argument, and my bag slipped from my hand.  I didn't try to stop it.  I didn't care if they heard me.  I was in shock.

Bump.  My bag made a soft, muffled sound as it fell.

The two arguing girls turned sideways and looked at me.

Something rumbled beneath the surface of my skin.

For a few minutes - only a few minutes out my life since I'd met Aya - did I truly believe I hated her.  No other feeling got in the way. 

I looked right at her.  She looked like she was about to faint.  Shibata's expression... I can't remember.  Maybe it had "oh crap" written all over it.  I kept my eyes on Aya, unable to turn away from the one thing in this world that I truly hated at that moment.  She looked over at Shibata and then looked back at me.

As if getting permission.  As if she had to ask Shibata what she was allowed to say and do.  As if Shibata had the power to tell her whether to stay in the Project or to leave.

What the hell.

"You're quitting H!P?" I asked quietly.

I could not believe it.  I needed to confirm that I'd heard incorrectly.

She didn't reply.  Guilty as charged.  I asked another question.

"Were you going to tell me?"

"Excuse me," I heard Shibata whisper.

She walked away.  I wanted to yell out to her and tell her to wait and help explain this situation, but I couldn't look away from Aya. 

"Is this what has been bothering you all week?" I asked. 

Answer me for once, you idiot.

I needed to hear it from her.  She answered, but not with her voice.  She looked down at the floor.  I almost sneered.

Wimp.

"Why didn't you say anything?" I pressed her.

Aya finally spoke up quietly.

"It was just a thought."

"Just a thought?!" I practically screamed in a controlled manner.

Who is she kidding?!

"It's not 'just' anything. You've been distracted for the past week for reasons I haven't been able to understand. I thought it was me. I really thought it was because of me."

I swallowed my tears - tears of helplessness.  I'd never felt like this before.  Desperation welled up inside of me and it had no outlet.  My anger had one - yelling, harsh words...  But my desperation stayed inside me and ate me alive.

"I thought I'd done something you didn't like."

I thought back to all the times we'd hung out, e-mailed each other, slept together, any interaction we'd had.  In the past few days I'd questioned every single second we'd spent together.

"I was wondering why you were bothering to spend any time with me and pretending to enjoy it. Ever since Monday. I haven't stopped worrying about it. You've made me so angry."

I finally told her exactly how I'd felt for the week, but I didn't think she could possibly understand how much my anger had been multiplied within seconds of overhearing her conversation.  I clenched my fists, wishing to drive them through the wall.  Through her stupid, hurt-looking, victimised face. 

I breathed deeply trying to calm myself.  I would accomplish nothing by hitting her (nothing other than possibly being charged for assault).

And suddenly it all became hazy.  My memory of the next ten minutes was affected greatly.  Some things stood out to me sharply and I could never forget them.  The rest of the things, though, were overshadowed by my overwhelming anger.  I was so angry that I went blank.

"Are you mad at me for wanting to leave?" she asked me.

I answered her honestly.  No, I wasn't mad at her for wanting to leave.  I was too angry at the present situation to lie pettily.  Of course she was good enough for something better than the Project.  Of course she could go beyond me and everyone here.  That was a fact.

What she didn't have the right to do was to lead me around, lead me on, and then pick and choose what to give - or tell - me.  She had no right to play with my heart like that.  If she didn't want to be like that with me - closer than my closest friend - then that was okay.  I would deal with the heartbreak somehow.  But she had to tell me.  She couldn't take it all and then not return.  I gave her everything. 

And she?

Did not.

"Why don't you ever tell me what's on your mind?  I've told you everything on mine.  I've been nothing but honest with you since, well, last Saturday. I told you everything. I haven't held back anything."

That's what I'd wanted to ask her all week.  That was my issue.  It was finally out.

And what did she do?  She threw the stupidest thing in my face.

"You've been holding back your anger until now. Or last night."

That's all she could come up with?  That I'd not told her I was angry this week?

"That's because I felt I had to!" I exploded.  "If you could at least trust me, then I would have told you I was worried and angry. Things wouldn't have gotten like this between us!"

She looked offended.  She said that she trusted me and I almost laughed.  If she had trusted me, we wouldn't be here.  Not arguing, at least.

"I don't know where you got the idea that I don't. Why would I let you stay at my place when I'm not there? Lend you my extra key? Let you do things to me like you did last night?" she continued.  I shook my head as she spoke, refusing to let her ridiculous words take root in my mind. 

"What do you want me to do?” she demanded in a yell. “Give you my bank PIN?  Okay. It's 723-"

God, shut up!

"I don't want your damned bank PIN!" I shouted over her horrible tirade.

Did she think that's what our relationship was about?  That's what trust was?  PINs and money?  I screamed at her and sobbed in my head.

"I don't want permission to stay over when you're not home. I don't want your extra key. It's fine if I can't have those things. What I want is for you to open up your heart to me once in a while. Lend me the extra key to that and I'll be happy. Let me stay overnight there. Don't just give me things- things like PINs and keys. That's not what I want. That's not what I've given you."

And that was it.  I'd said all that I could.  I realised that she had never taken me seriously.  To her, this past week - since Kobe - must have been some wild experiment.  Something born out of the loneliness we both felt because of our jobs.  She'd confused friendship with something beyond it.  Our years of friendship before... meant nothing.  Or not as much as I'd thought.

I felt downright humiliated.  I'd never questioned my feelings for her.  I'd questioned her feelings for me all the time, but never mine for her.

I knew for sure that I'd said too much, given too much, and messed up royally again.  Typical me.

I couldn't stay there any longer.  There was nothing to be gained. 

I left her there.  She didn't try to follow me or call after me.  Maybe I'd made her feel bad.  Maybe she didn't care.  Who knew?  I sure as hell didn't.

However, as far as I was concerned, everything between us, including our friendship, was over.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #38 on: May 30, 2007, 01:20:35 PM »
Chapter 17 of 35

I look at the clock.  It's nearing eight o'clock.  I still have a few hours to wander around memory lane.

On a whim, I flip to channel four.  It's time for the weather.  Current conditions include clear skies and fourteen degrees centigrade.  That's exactly how I feel right now. 

Clear-headed but a little cold inside.  I can see the past and I can see where I went wrong and where I excelled.  I can remember most of it with precision.  Yet not even the happy memories can take me to that time when I was happiest.  Even the low points that I've been thinking about sometimes seem like they're more worth living through.  At least Aya and I still talked.

Offline OTN1

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Re: Love X 2 (the entire series)
« Reply #39 on: May 30, 2007, 01:32:03 PM »
Chapter 18 of 35

I got home after my concert.  It was the worst concert in my whole career as an idol.  I got all the steps perfect, I hit all my notes, I laughed and joked at the right times.

I didn't feel a thing, though.

I threw my stuff on the floor and got ready for a bath.  Twenty minutes later I sank into the warm water and closed my eyes.  Inevitably, Aya came to my mind.  In fact, I don't think she had ever left it.  She was practically the only thing I could think about, especially since fighting with her.

I didn't hate her.  Not anymore.  Oh, I was angry with her.  I was furious.  But I didn't hate her.  In the end, I never could.

And that just made me angrier.  The fact that I couldn't hate her.  The fact that I was so weak.  Such a sucky loser.  I let her treat me like that.  I made excuses for her and let her get away with everything because I was somehow entranced.  Bewitched.  Aya could do no evil.

As I sat in the bathtub, I finally resolved to do something about it.  If the things she did couldn't make me hate her, I'd take an active approach and convince myself I hated her.  It was better than the alternative - to love and get hurt.  No, not to get hurt.  To get my insides ripped to pieces and my heart shredded.

I thought of the things I could do to make myself hate Aya.

I hit upon a brilliant idea.  I'd make her hate me.  That would be easy.  I had no idea why she ever liked me in the first place.  I knew that I wasn't anything special, so it wouldn't be hard to show her my bad side.

The thought depressed me.  I didn't want to do it.  I didn't want to hurt Aya.  Even if she killed me, I really couldn't do it to her.

But I had to.

I finished my bath and spent my night planning what to do.  I got nothing done.  I only made myself wish that all of this had never happened.

The next morning I slept in far too late.  It was my one day off that week and I spent almost half of it unconscious.  I got out of bed just before noon and somehow washed my face, started some laundry, and made breakfast.  Not that I was hungry.  It was just something to do.

At a quarter to one, my home phone rang.  I picked up after three rings.  I didn't want to talk to anyone, but I thought it might be something important.

"Yeah?" I asked into the receiver, not in the mood to be overly polite.

"Hi? Miki?"

It was Aya.  Any politeness I'd been about to offer to the maker of this phone call disappeared into thin air.

"Yes?" I asked hollowly.

"Can I meet you?"

No.  No.  No! I thought.  I almost said yes.  I had to be strong.

"What is it, Aya?" I asked without showing any emotion.

It might be work-related.  If it was, I'd have to let her talk to me.

"I just want to say some things to you." 

Vague answer.

"Does this have to do with work?" I asked outright.

"Not exactly."

Then shut the hell up and don't call me.

"Then I'll talk to you later. I don't have time for this right now."

I pushed the power button violently and tossed the phone onto the couch.

I'd done it.  Step one of making Aya hate me.  I'd been rude to her on the phone and denied her an opportunity to explain herself.  A small victory.

If it was such a victory, why did I feel so terrible?

What if she had a really good excuse?  A really good reason why she did what she did?  I couldn't understand what it could possibly be, but there had to be something...

Twenty minutes later I let out a frustrated cry and stalked over to my phone.  I dialled Aya's number.  I would get to the bottom of it.  Maybe I could inflict some damage while I was at it.

"Hello?" she asked after a few rings.

"What did you want to tell me?"  I demanded.

There was a silence in which I'm sure she was surprised that I called her back.  I hoped she wasn't hopeful.  I didn't want to let her think that things were okay between us.  I also didn't want her to think that she'd managed to tempt me with information because I sure as hell had been, and I wanted to believe that things would be okay after this phone call, but I didn't want to allow her the satisfaction of knowing.

So she jumped into what she had to say.  She apologised.  For not letting me in on her issues, for not trusting me enough.  She thanked me for being a model example of a friend and comforting her.  She told me she never lied to me except when she'd said she was okay whenever I'd questioned her during that bad week.

I believed every word she said.  It made me so angry.   As I sat there silently, absorbing her words, I could hear the faint buzzing of cicadas coming from her side.  She was outside.

"Why'd you do it?" I rasped out.

I didn't really know what to say.

"Do what?"

"Not tell me that you wanted to leave," I clarified.

And then she went into something that pained me.  She brought up my failed solo career first.

"... I didn't want you to get angry and think that I was ego-obsessed and that I thought so highly of myself that I could leave H!P far behind without a worry."

Did she think I was stupid?  Did she think I had no control over myself?  Did she think I was so jealous of her that I couldn't be trusted to make judgements or give her my opinions about her career?  Of course thinking about my failures wasn't pleasant, but if I had to think about them for practical reasons and to help her out, I could handle it.  What hurt me most, though, was that she thought I would have thought badly of her if she mentioned those things to me.

She had completely missed the point of opening one's heart to someone.  You were supposed to let go of your inhibitions and trust that person to be able to see the good in you no matter what bad or stuck up things you had (or thought you had) done.

"I told you I didn't care about that anymore. I'm not going to jump in pain every time someone or something reminds me I'm not a soloist anymore," I started.

I could feel myself becoming more animated.  I stood up and waved my hand around even though she couldn't see me. 
"And do you think I'm going to judge you right away and call you stuck up or something because you recognise your own talent? You'd think I'd know you a little better than to automatically assume that. You think I'm stupid enough to get angry about something like that?!"

Then she told me she was insecure, and simultaneously, but passively, accused me of being insecure.  Damn straight, I was, but it was no time to remind me.  Anyway, how could she possibly be insecure?  Insecurity was for losers like me, not perfect people like her.  I yelled back at her to stop with crap talk like that.  She was starting to piss me off in a dangerous way.

I didn't quite hear the beginning of her sentence, but I caught the second half.

"...I still feel insecure talking about it with you because I don't want you to dislike me. That would ruin everything. Your opinion is important to me."

My breath stopped.  She sounded so sincere.  For a moment I forgot that I was trying to make her hate me.  I almost let her through.  What she had said... that's what I wanted to hear.

No, I reminded myself.  Stay strong.  You've almost got her hating you.

"Don't do this to me. Don't pile it on anymore," I said.

My voice felt empty.  I didn't want it to betray what I felt - that I was so incredibly close to accepting her apology.

"Miki, I don't like talking about this on the phone. Can we please just meet up?" she pleaded.

I considered it in my head.  I crumbled under her appeal and I started to soften up, so I hardened my voice even more to keep her from noticing.

"Win yourself an invitation to my place by using any spectacular words you may have, if you want," I said acidly into the phone.  "Convince me that I should give you a chance- if you can use that head of yours to think of something other than yourself."

There was a brief pause on her side, and I wondered if she'd just hang up on me.

"There's no need to be rude," she said in a soft, hurt voice.

She had no right to call me rude when she had committed such a heinous act of betrayal.

"Rude?" I burst out with a bitter laugh. "Rude?! Oh no. Rude would be asking something inappropriate of you. Rude would be if I told you to tell me how far you really went with that stupid boyband singer of yours."

I hadn't meant to bring him up, but the words just slipped out of my mouth.

"Miki... I told you ages ago that there was nothing. For god's sake, it was a couple of dates."

She sounded like she was whining.  I was sickened.

I began to lose it.

"Yeah, but he still got house calls. Service at his own front door. Groceries and who knows what else," I spat out.

I felt my control slipping...

"M... but... your- I told... Miki!" she stuttered.

She sounded like she was starting to get angry...

"Was he any good? You never told me the details," I started.

And that set me off.  I suddenly started to take stabs at her in earnest.  It wasn't the cold, calculated meanness I had intended.  It was fiery, spontaneous, and even more hurtful than anything I could have made up.  I felt like I was in the right the whole time.  That what I was saying was reasonable, sensible.  I didn't realise at the time that I was being ridiculous. 

"I should know so that I can have more things to be angry about. What was it like sleeping with him?" I asked intrusively.

"I told you everything already," she said in a tiny voice. 

She was such a liar.  There's no way she'd restrained herself like that.

"Really?  I hardly believe that you only kissed him a few times."

I could picture it in my head... Aya and that guy... sitting on her couch... or maybe her bed... and slowly warming up to each other... taking each other's clothes off... him pushing her down on the bed and telling her not to be afraid and that he wouldn't hurt her...

I clenched my teeth and tried to get the image out of my head.

She asked me why I didn't believe her.

"Because I know you better than that.  I know you have a taste for action."

Images of our nights together interrupted that other, sour image I'd placed in my head.  It was an epileptic's worst nightmare - things changing too quickly, bright flashes, moving pictures...

"Don't lie to me and tell me you don't. I've seen it."

"Why would I outright lie to you about it?"

I could have sworn I heard tears in her voice.  I almost laughed out loud.

"Maybe you were embarrassed to tell me. Maybe you didn't want me to think badly of you - that you were a slut or really easy or something for sleeping with him after 'a couple of dates'.  Hmm?" I said in a condescending way.

"Stop it!" she cried.

I knew I'd won, but I kept going.  I'd become lost on a terrible path, and the only way to get out of it was to keep going down it.

"Why? Why can't I know? Aren't I your best friend?" I asked angrily.  "Didn't you sleep with me, too? I deserve to know."

The hatred came back.  It wasn't as strong as before, but remembering how close we'd been and how much of myself I'd given up to her made me feel so ashamed of myself.  It made me hate myself more than I had ever hated anything.  I had made the biggest mistake of my life, and there was no taking it back.

I continued to prod at her.  She told me I was being ridiculous, but I barely even heard. 

And then she said that there was nothing between us when she was dating that moron. 

She was the biggest liar I had ever met.  We might not have been sleeping together and we might not have said anything, but there was definitely something between us.  No other two friends acted like that, held each other like that, did intimate things like we did.  No other.

"Nothing between us?!" my yell exploded from me.  "'Closest friends in the world' means nothing?"

Not only had I made the mistake of kissing her that one night, but also of simply being her friend.  I'd meant nothing to her.  Nothing at all.

"You know perfectly well what I mean," she said as if I was supposed to really know.

How could I know when I kept hearing different things?  So I asked.

"No, I don't. Please elaborate for me. Just to be clear. How did you think of me back then?"

"Closer to you than to anyone else," she replied.

I waited for more, but that was it.

"That's all?" I asked in a tone that must have shown my disapproval.

She didn't answer.  I wouldn't settle for no answer.  Not this time.

"Is that all?" I repeated slowly.

"Stop this," she pleaded in that whiney voice that was starting to make my ears hurt.

"You felt something, I know.  You couldn't even believe it yourself.  And you fucked him despite not even being sure where your heart was."

Something inside of me died.  I recognised that I'd gone too far, yet I still couldn't stop myself.

She bit back at me harder than I thought she would.  She yelled that I was being stupid.

"Now as for your insecurity, there-" she started, but I cut in.

"Insecure?" I asked.

Why did she have to bring that up again?

"Hell, yes, I'm insecure!  How can I ever be sure you like me if I know you're just going to hide the truth from everyone?" 

I guess that was what I really wanted to know.  If she liked me or not.  She could tell me that she did.  She could touch me and show me that she did.  But how could I ever really know if she meant it?

"It was one instance!" she almost screamed at me.

"One leads to two leads to three... Maybe I should just become friends with Shibata. Maybe she'll let me know what's up with you."

"You're sick."

No, you're the one who's sick.  Not being able to trust your own- whatever I was to you, I thought bitterly.

"Am I? You're the one who trusts her more than you trust me."

She promised me that it wasn't true.  I felt like I'd reached the end of that dark path.  I could see light up ahead.  I was almost out.

"I don't trust you anymore. Your promise means nothing."

I said it with such finality that I felt I'd stepped off the road and was falling from a cliff.

"Then it's your loss," she said.

What a snob.

"If you don't trust me, hang up the phone right now.  Hang up right now and go on thinking that-"

I hung up.

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