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Author Topic: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (41/41 END) [WMatsui] - REPLIES  (Read 273894 times)

Offline Guacamoolee

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (38/40) [WMatsui] - 21/11/2018
« Reply #720 on: December 13, 2018, 02:36:49 PM »
Thank you for the update!

Finally I get the chance to say what I have in mind XD
See, I keep my promise!

It's a long awaited chapter indeed but I enjoyed it to the fullest! I'm agree that this chapter is a bit cheesy but it's sweeeeeeeettttt...... I love it!
I like it how they spent their time together, just like another people *cough cough*, I mean couple lol

They deserve a happy ending and it seems like you already decided that chapter 40 will be the last, right? I don't know why but I'm happy with that and I guess that's the best way how this story end :D

Once again, thank you for the update and for being a faithful wmatsui shipper :')

P.s. Sorry for the lack of cute emoticon because I use another laptop which I don't know why the browser couldn't show the emoticon.
P.p.s. I hope you'll publish your fanfics on books!! ;) *Fingers crossed.*

Offline sophcaro

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    • sophcaro
Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #721 on: December 25, 2018, 12:37:16 PM »

Jurina watched with adoration the feminine, slender form in bed, cautious not to move or make too much noise. Even if she tried, Jurina would be unable to look away, drinking in the sight of the beautiful, naked actress sleeping beside her so innocently and peacefully. A few times already, Jurina had resisted the urge to close the distance and refamiliarize herself with the taste of Rena’s soft, warm inviting lips, luxuriating in the feeling of pure bliss coursing through her veins.

I’ve accepted the idea that pain is part of life. However, no matter what the future has in store for me, my ultimate wish is to be happy at the end.

Without warning, this, maybe naïve, yet legitimate wish she had once expressed during her 2016 Summer holidays with Mayu and Yuki came rushing back to Jurina’s mind. That day at the temple, it had taken her a little while to choose a wish. After all, she already had everything she desired: a job she adored, faithful friends, and a girl she loved endlessly. When her world crumbled down after her devastating breakup with Rena, she still kept making that wish, year after year, even though a part of herself feared she might never truly regain those lost moments of happiness.

Realization dawned on her that the universe had, when she the least expected it, listened and granted her deepest desire. Yes, she was over the moon; happier than she ever hoped she could be. Much as she sometimes liked to act tough, mature and independent, Jurina was more than aware than it was only an illusion, a lie she told herself and others to avoid facing the truth that she needed Rena’s love as much as she needed air to breathe.

Their paths were tightly intertwined and their souls bound by the strongest tie: a love that would never wither and die through time and distance. As long as she remembered, Rena had always been her compass, a guiding light. When the pressure and expectations were too high in SKE48 and Jurina was on the verge of breaking down, both physically and mentally, Rena was by her side to offer her unconditional support. She was a comforting, reassuring presence and a shoulder to lean on in times of hardship, promising her that there was always a light at the end of the tunnel.

By her constant faith in her, loyalty and determination, Rena taught her to never concede defeat, showing her that she was never alone but surrounded by people who trusted, cared and believed in her. No matter what, she ought to keep moving forward: trust her lucky star that had at the early age of 11 propelled her into the spotlight when she became the Center of what would be one of the most famous idol groups in Japan.

But above all that, Rena was her sun. She illuminated her path and her life in this often harsh, demanding world. She filled a void in her heart with her warmth, patience, and infinite caring. And now that she had Rena back in her arms, Jurina was well determined to never let anything or anyone split them apart ever again.

Jurina smiled affectionately when she saw the body next to her stirring up, a pair of sleepy, small brown orbs fluttering open and falling on her. This time, she didn’t hesitate to gently press her lips against Rena’s, connecting their mouths in a slow, morning kiss. Wishing to give Rena proper time to wake up, she remained quiet for now and contemplated every little inch of Rena’s face. Her fingertips traced Rena’s eyebrows, then brushed lightly down her nose before teasing her bottom lip with her thumb, soon seeing the corners of her girlfriend’s mouth pulling up into a smile. “Hi…”

“Hi,” Jurina whispered back; she reached for Rena’s hand on the pillow and enveloped it with her own, renewing with their morning routine. “Did you sleep well?”

“I did,” Rena pulled their joined hands to her lips and planted a kiss on top of Jurina’s knuckles, before playing with Jurina’s fingers and lacing them together. “How long have you been awake?”

“Hum…” Jurina snaked an arm around Rena’s waist under the bedsheet, claiming Rena’s lips once more in a gentle kiss, while her fingers drew slow, random patterns across Rena’s naked back. “Maybe half an hour?”

Rena’s eyes widened slightly in surprise. “Don’t tell me you’ve been staring at me this whole time?”

“Why not?” Jurina’s lips twitched in amusement. “You look so adorable when you’re sleeping. I wouldn’t want to miss it.”

Rena buried her face in the pillow, averting her gaze. “Stop it.” She groaned in protest. “I look terrible in the morning, and you know it.”

“That’s not true,” Jurina dropped a kiss on Rena’s forehead, then another down her cheek, before cupping her chin and turning it in her direction. When Rena’s eyes slowly met hers, Jurina leaned down and sealed her lips with a kiss. “In the morning or in the evening. With or without makeup. When you were all sweaty from dancing and exhausted after a long day of rehearsal with the group. Nevermind the day, the time, or the circumstances, you were still the most gorgeous girl in the room to me.”

“I don’t even know why I’m trying to reason with you,” Rena smiled resignedly and ran her fingers through Jurina’s long dark hair, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “No matter what I say, I’ll never have the final word with you, will I?”

“Never,” Jurina’s expression softened at the tender gesture, before she smirked. “Because you know I’m right anyway.”

Rena laughed at Jurina’s smug, yet teasing expression. “Alright, that’s enough. Stop saying silly things and kiss me…”

Jurina didn’t need to be asked twice, eagerly bringing their lips together. Little by little, the first light kisses they exchanged turned more pressing and demanding. They didn’t hesitate to express their mutual passion and longing with a series of lingering kisses, their hands exploring and mapping each other’s bodies with caresses. When their lips eventually parted in need of air, Jurina’s heart thumped noisily as her gaze plunged into Rena’s deep loving one.

Nevermind the insecurities, doubts and fears that might have placated them both in the past, there was one thing she was now absolutely certain of: Rena was the only person she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

Jurina relished the pleasurable sensation of Rena’s fingers stroking her hair and, with a soft sigh, she settled her mouth on Rena’s once more, her girlfriend’s lips warm and sweet on hers, until her attention fell down onto the necklace the older girl was wearing. Jurina extended her hand to reach the ring nested between Rena’s breasts, turning and observing it attentively between her fingertips. The previous evening, she was stunned to discover that Rena kept the ring with her after all these years.

Jurina had her own ring at home, carefully secured in its box in a drawer. After their breakup, and once she had found the strength to remove it from her finger, she had never worn it again, her sorrow resurfacing too easily at the simple view of the piece of jewelry. The fact that Rena still wore it close was another indisputable proof that Rena’s love for her was sincere and had never wavered. Jurina felt incredibly touched by this revelation, yet it also made her realize how terribly blind, insecure and foolish she had been.

Jurina’s mood darkened; her grip around the ring faltered. “That day, I should have figured out what was really happening and why you were saying all those things. It wasn’t you. You had been acting strangely for weeks, but I didn’t ask the right questions. I let my insecurity speak and I gave up on you. That will always be my biggest regret…” Tears of remorse formed in Jurina’s eyes. “I should never have walked out of your apartment. I should have fought for you. I should-”

“No, stop,” Rena said urgently, pressing a finger to her lips. “Please don’t. You never did anything wrong.”

“I know things could have been different if I hadn’t left,” Jurina insisted, feeling tears wetting on her cheeks.

“Listen to me,” Rena cradled Jurina’s face between her palms, delicately wiping away her tears one after another. “I know I’m a clumsy, flawed 29-year-old girl who still sometimes has difficulty expressing how she feels. For so many years, I did not want to meddle with matters of the heart. It took me so long to accept that I needed you in my life more than I thought. To come to the realization that I had fallen in love with my flirty, sometimes childish, yet caring, faithful and passionate WCenter. This heart belongs to you,” Rena held Jurina’s hand inside hers and placed it against her beating heart. “It has never beaten for anyone else but you. And as long as you want me in your life, as long as your love for me stays intact, I vow to never, ever leave your side again.”

“R-Rena…” Jurina’s voice shook with emotion. New fresh tears, ones of happiness this time, found their way to her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Words failed her as she found herself deeply moved by Rena’s profession of love and she snuggled her face against the crook of Rena’s neck. As Rena’s arms instantly enveloped her in response, her heart beat wildly inside her chest.

Jurina knew Rena wasn’t just the best partner she could ever dream of having on both a professional and personal level: she was also conscious her heart equally belonged to her and would never stop beating for her. Rena planted a few gentle kisses on top of her head, while her hand caressed the length of her back in a soothing, affectionate gesture. Jurina didn’t have an ounce of doubt that her heart was once more safe and secured in Rena’s loving care.

For a while, they quietly stayed into each other’s arms, simply enjoying each other’s warmth and presence. Jurina allowed herself to relax, refusing to move away from the comfortable position they had settled in. Not once, she bothered to check the time on the alarm-clock, nothing else mattering at this précised moment than enjoying the present moment and their recaptured happiness.

Rena’s soft, gentle voice eventually broke the silence between them. “What do you want to do after breakfast?”

“I don’t know,” Jurina murmured truthfully, feeling far too at ease in Rena’s arms to consider any other form of activity. “Do you…” After a thoughtful pause, she considered Rena’s question more seriously. “Is there any movie you wanted to see at the cinema?”

“Hum, not especially…” Rena answered pensively.

Jurina disentangled herself from the embrace and gazed back at her. “Really? There isn’t?”

“No, but we can always check the program and see if there’s anything we’re interested in,” Rena suggested, facing her back. “What do you think?”

“It’s a good idea,” Jurina smiled fondly, nodding in approval. “In the meantime, instead of going downstairs for breakfast, why don’t we-”

“Order room service?” Rena chimed in, arching an eyebrow in amusement. “And stay in bed a little while longer?”

“H-How do you…” Stupefaction touched Jurina’s face. “How did you know what I was about to say?!”

“Let’s call it… a hunch?” Rena joked. “You can be so predictable sometimes.”

“I’m not… I’m not that predictable,” Jurina grumbled, before a mischievous twinkle appeared in her eyes. Her palm traveled up Rena’s chest, her fingers mapping her skin slowly and sensuously. “I can be full of surprises too.”

“I know you do…” Rena smiled knowingly. “Let me go and order room service first, then we can continue this conversation where we left it.” Her lips brushed hers in a slow, drugging kiss, before she caught Jurina’s wandering hand inside hers. “Alright?”

Jurina didn’t say anything and kept her eyes fixed on her as Rena removed the bedcover and took a seat on the side of the bed, before straightening up and wrapping her arms around Rena’s waist. “I’m sure it can wait,” she whispered huskily inside Rena’s ear, Rena’s body shuddering against her while she rained little soft kisses on the nape of her neck. “I’m not feeling very hungry right now.”

When Rena turned around in her arms and gave her a look that made the breath leave her body, Jurina didn’t hesitate to assault her lips and pin her down to the bed, her hands roaming freely over Rena’s compliant, naked, desirable body. Soon, the kiss intensified, their tongues seeking each other’s out as the flame of desire sparkled between them once more. The sound of Rena’s moans spurred her, Jurina growing more excited and impatient to explore and ravish every square inch of her body all over again.

It was past 3 p.m. when she and Jurina exited the independent local cinema, Rena feeling quite content about the Irish-American comedy they had just watched together. Yes, it was sometimes a little cheesy and full of sentimentalism, yet Rena had to recognize that this romance between a sophisticated Boston girl and a gruff Irish bartender was also funny and uplifting, typically the kind of movies that fit the holidays spirit. 

As Jurina commented enthusiastically a few scenes she had enjoyed, Rena couldn’t help but tease her about the few tears she had witnessed on her girlfriend’s cheeks during some emotional moments, much entertained when Jurina defended herself and proclaimed, a little clumsily, that she definitely didn’t weep during the movie. Nevermind how many times Rena assured her that it was perfectly fine and she found her behavior actually quite touching and adorable, Jurina refused to hear none of it.

After a few more protests coming from her flustered girlfriend, Rena decided to let her win this little debate, aware that Jurina never liked being seen as someone too sensitive. Rena was conscious that it was because that aspect of her personality contrasted with the image Jurina tried to project in SKE for so long: the one of a mature, strong and confident leader. Rena always believed that Jurina didn’t need to fit an idealistic version of herself, and had no reason to be ashamed of herself.

Her emotions were everything but a weakness; on the contrary, they were what made her quite special and unique.

As they were now heading towards the shopping center, they paused to watch the stage being erected for the upcoming concert. Rena felt admittedly quite excited about the prospect. This weekend, she hadn’t traveled to Tokyo for the sole purpose of the anime and manga convention. She also planned to attend the mini-showcase of Dreams come True, one of her favorite Japanese groups.

Rena got distracted when she heard Jurina’s cellphone ringing, Jurina slipping her hand from her grasp to check the screen, only to witness the younger girl hanging up and putting the device back inside her vest pocket. Albeit the fact Jurina redirected her attention to the stage, casually seizing her hand back in the process, Rena was slightly destabilized by Jurina’s behavior, literally feeling the tension now emanating from her.

This weekend, Jurina had received a few phone calls, mostly related to work, and would always try to solve the matter quickly in her presence, or isolate herself in the hotel corridor. However, in two specific occasions, and upon noticing the caller ID, she had purely and simply hanged up, the following moment returning to her previous occupation as if nothing happened. Under other circumstances, Rena would believe her girlfriend was trying to be thoughtful and ignoring a few calls to not disturb her too much, yet the way Jurina’s features always darkened afterwards told her there had to be another explanation.

“When does the showcase start?” Jurina suddenly asked.

“6 p.m.,” Rena replied, jolting out of her thoughts. “It’s a very short concert; it’s only supposed to last 1 hour.”

“Oh, I see…” Jurina nodded in understanding.

The faint smile Jurina sent her way didn’t fool her in the slightest, and was enough to tell her that something was definitely going on. Much as she wasn’t one to pry more than necessary, Rena couldn’t hold her tongue any longer, worried about the abrupt, negative change of mood that always followed those mysterious phone calls. She had to know. She had to ask. “Jurina, is everything alright?”

Jurina glanced back at her, puzzled. “Yes, I’m fine. Why are you asking?”

“It’s just…” Rena bit down on her lower lip uncertainly, wondering if she couldn’t be imagining things when Jurina’s mouth suddenly drew into a curious, innocent smile. Nevertheless, she decided to push through and follow her instincts. “It’s the second time you’re receiving a phone call and chose not to answer. If it’s related to work or if it’s important, you can answer. You don’t have to be afraid of disturbing me.”

At once, Jurina’s face clouded with unease. “It’s not work… It’s not important. Don’t worry about it. I’ll reply later. It can wait.”

Rena studied her carefully. If there was one thing Jurina had clearly never been good at, it was lying. And, right now, she could tell Jurina wasn’t being entirely honest with her. The concept that Jurina was hiding something from her, coupled with the younger girl’s palpable nervousness, only served to increase her concern. “Is something wrong? Whatever it is, you know you can tell me.”

Jurina stayed silent, her lips tightly sealed. Rena gave her hand a light, encouraging squeeze, patiently waiting for her to confess what was most visibly troubling her. “It’s… It’s my mom,” Jurina finally blurted out, avoiding her gaze. “She’s inviting me home for dinner, and wants to know when I’m available.”

Rena processed the information, guessing by Jurina’s reaction that she wasn’t particularly enchanted by the prospect. When they were in SKE, Jurina maintained a very close bond with her mother, never failing to mention her or praise her at every given opportunity. However, Rena suspected their relationship had suffered greatly when Jurina had discovered the certain role her mother had played in their separation.

“You haven’t spoken to your mother since that day, have you?” Rena asked delicately, only to have her predictions confirmed when Jurina responded with a silent nod. Rena cupped her chin and gently tilted Jurina’s face towards her. “I know how terribly upset you were with her, but it’s been three months. I think… I think you should try and reconcile with her.”

“Why should I?” Jurina breathed, anger flashing in her eyes. “She knew that I loved you and that we were together, but she went behind my back to push you to break up with me. How can I… How can I ever forgive her for this? How could you?!”

Rena was caught off guard by Jurina’s outburst. “You know it’s not exactly what happened…” she explained tentatively. “Your mother loved you and feared for your future. I know she meant well and only had your wellbeing and career in mind. That’s why I understood her initiative and never held it against her. She was doing what any caring parent would do: protect their child.”

As Jurina broke into a long and quite uncharacteristic silence, Rena could tell this conversation was a sensitive topic and truly affecting her as a look of sadness crossed her face. It evidently brought back bad memories, memories Jurina had probably been trying to keep buried deep inside her all this time. “I don’t know… I don’t know if I can ever forget. She was the person I loved and trusted the most in this world. No matter my choices and decisions, she always listened and supported me. And in the end, she betrayed me in the most painful way. She hurt me, Rena. How can I ever forget it?”

Rena felt her heart sink, seeing the tears rising unbidden behind Jurina’s lids. “I know that it hurt you. I really do,” she gently pulled Jurina into her arms, holding her close. “But I truly hope you’ll give her a second chance. Just as you found it in your heart to forgive me and accept me back in your life.”

When Jurina didn’t reply, Rena strongly wished her words would manage to reach her. Three months ago, when Jurina had come by at her apartment on that rainy evening of September, she had witnessed the look of shear fury on Jurina’s face after the revelation of what her mother had done. Despite it, Rena always believed deep down that Jurina’s resentment towards her mother wouldn’t last and would eventually fade away, when the pain would have subsided enough. 

Because if there one thing she was certain of, it was that Jurina couldn’t afford to let one mistake divide her from one of the most important persons of her life.

Akane found herself enchanted by the view of the Christmas illuminations decorating the streets of Tokyo, not hesitating to follow Airi as her friend stopped in front of a shop to admire the small mechanical white bears and reindeers moving behind the glass window and surrounding a giant Father Christmas. As most of her weekend was spent wandering around the halls of the Jump Festa, Akane always used the way back to the hotel as an occasion to loosen up and immerse herself in the light, joyful atmosphere that surrounded the festive season.

Behind her back, Akane heard a little girl approaching and dragging by the hand her parents towards the shop window, sticking her face to the glass and pointing enthusiastically at a small and cute rabbit hidden in the deep artificial snow. Akane watched fondly the touching and amusing little family scene unfolding in front of her before her eyes flickered to her friend by her side, only to see Airi smiling at her. “The Christmas decorations are especially nice this year, don’t you think?”

“They are,” Akane confirmed and returned the smile, before diverting her attention back to the street when Airi took a step back from the window.

Akane let out a quiet sigh of satisfaction as they slowly resumed their walk to the meeting point, not believing how incredibly well the weekend had turned out. At 5 p.m., the streets were now completely dark, yet Akane had no difficulty encountering the WMatsui pair waiting beside the large Christmas tree decorating the center of the avenue. From afar, Akane observed the interaction between the two girls, from the smiles they occasionally exchanged while they were engaged in a conversation, to the physical proximity highlighted by their casual handholding.

For the bystanders and in the eye of the rest of the world, those two girls looked like two good friends enjoying a carefree evening together. Yet, after spending more than a decade by Jurina’s side, Akane could read her body language pretty well. Rena never let transpire much in public and mostly kept her thoughts and emotions to herself. It wasn’t just an intrinsic aspect of her introvert personality, but also a way of preserving herself from ill-intentioned people.

However, not the same could be said about Jurina: much as she tried, she never managed to keep her feelings to herself very long, and had always been much easier to read. And right now, Akane could see her friend literately glowing from inside. From the hand that refused to let go of Rena’s, and too often played with her fingers. To the smile full of love and adoration she harbored each time her eyes landed on the older girl. All the signs were here to indicate the genuine joy Rena’s presence by her side procured her.

Akane couldn’t avert her gaze from the view, one she hadn’t witnessed in three long years, soon finding herself a little conflicted. On one hand, she was more than glad and relieved that the dark days of sorrow were behind them and Jurina truly seemed to have found the happiness she sought. Yet, another part of her couldn’t help but wonder if she hadn’t by her actions unintentionally prevented Jurina from obtaining what she had secretly desired the most all this time.

“Churi, what’s wrong?” When she felt a hand touching her arm lightly, Akane glanced sideways, only to witness Airi looking at her in curiosity. “You’re awfully quiet.”

Akane paused in her steps. For a long moment she hesitated, not knowing where to start, before realizing she couldn’t delay this conversation any longer. These last three years, Airi had remained a faithful friend to her, never judging her despite their serious points of disagreements concerning Rena. This weekend, Airi had finally opened her eyes on the truth, a truth she stubbornly refused to see for so long. “I feel…” She breathed a heavy sigh of regret. “I feel so stupid.”

“What do you mean?” Airi asked, confused.

“Rena… You were right about her all along,” Akane confessed. “Why she went to see Jurina at the hospital when she collapsed after a handshake, or why she accepted to participate to her graduation concert. The reasons should have been obvious to me, but I could never figure out Rena’s actions and motivations. She always remained such a mystery to me. I felt so frustrated and powerless about the situation, that I even childishly lashed out at you that day I came back from visiting Jurina at the hospital. I couldn’t understand why Rena would rush to the hospital to see her, only to crush her hopes of reconciliation.”

Akane paused; her voice filled with remorse. “But I was completely missing the point, wasn’t I? How could I let my emotions cloud my judgment? What kind of friend was I to try and dissuade Jurina from being reunited with Rena? The person she always and still loved despite everything?”

Airi looked at her with comprehension and compassion. “We all have moments when we fail to be completely impartial. We are guided by our emotions and forget to think rationally and objectively, but it’s what shows our genuine attachment to someone. What matters the most is that we are capable of seeing, accepting and fixing our mistakes. And you did it, Churi. When you agreed to split ways with Rena and Jurina after dinner and gave them an opportunity to be alone, you had their best interests at heart.”

“Maybe…” Akane’s voice trailed away, not entirely convinced. “But I really behaved inappropriately with Rena all this time. I spoke to her in a way… I told her certain things I should never have. I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me for it.”

“I cannot speak for Rena, but if there’s one thing I know about her, it’s that she’s not the kind of person to hold a grudge against someone,” Airi carefully answered, her smile brisk and reassuring. “It’s just not like her.”

When she felt Airi catching her hand and giving it a light squeeze, Akane clutched her fingers tightly, summoning up her courage as she knew she had something else and very important to say. “It’s not the only thing I wanted to talk to you about,” she added nervously. “I also wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed spending the weekend with you. I know that I haven’t been the best of friends lately and I should have been more attentive and understanding. I truly missed this. I missed us.”

“You don’t have to worry so much,” Airi’s mouth curved into a smile of pleasure. “You’ve always been one of my closest friends and nothing, no one will ever change that.”

“Sometimes, I think I don’t deserve you…” Akane said painfully.

“Don’t say that,” Airi protested, giving her hand a gentle tug. “I meant to ask you. Do you have any plans for Christmas?”

“No, I don’t…” Akane slowly answered.

“Then, what do you say if we spend Christmas together?” Airi suggested with an expectant look.

“Yes, I want to spend Christmas with you,” Akane offered her a small, shy smile, hope filling her from within. More than anything, she was fully conscious that she was exceptionally fortunate to have such a trusted and forgiving friend as Airi in her life, and she doubted a few words of apology would ever be enough to justify her past behavior. From now on, she was well decided to do everything in her power to redeem herself.

Rena fell into step with the three other girls as they entered and strolled through the Christmas market, holding her breath at the spectacular view awaiting her. The flower and herb parterres were surrounded by decorative illuminated arches: the tree trunk and branches also illuminated the pathway borders. The large, sparkling Merry Christmas neon sign and rainbow illumination welcomed them above their head: with so many points of attraction, Rena didn’t know where to focus her attention. At this late time of the day, the place was crowded with families and couples, visitors pausing now and then to marvel at the glittering Christmas decorations or to stop by a vendor cart offering a variety of sweets, pastries and hot drinks to take away.

When Jurina pointed at a red, heart-shaped sparkling lollipop on sale, Rena chuckled softly at her barely-contained excitement, admitting you could indeed truly find all sorts of unique and unusual products around this festive period. Soon enough, Jurina’s attention was caught by a shop selling Christmas Wagashi, coming in different sizes and flavors, finding especially cute the snowmen and holly leaves shaped ones.

“You want to buy some?” Rena asked, approaching the window shop her girlfriend was now looking at.

“The red bean and green tea Wagashi look delicious,” Jurina said, before sighing dejectedly when she noticed the long waiting queue inside. “But there are too many people and I don’t want to make you all wait for me.”

“Ah, Wagashis. I wanted some too,” Airi chimed in and stared at the window shop, before tilting her head innocently in Rena’s direction. “Why don’t you go and admire the decorations with Akane while Jurina and I buy some?”

Rena found herself momentarily speechless. “What… What are you saying,” she frowned, bewildered by her friend’s suggestion. “We don’t have to split ways, we can all wait together inside.”

“There’s really a lot of people, and we don’t know how long it will take us,” Airi gently interjected, shaking her head in disagreement. “In the meantime, you should both enjoy yourselves. What do you think, Akane? You don’t mind, do you?”

After a moment of silence, Akane answered. “Of course, not…”

Rena slowly looked back and forth between the two girls, finding Airi’s curious smile a little odd and suspicious, while not missing Akane’s manifest discomfort. At last, Rena’s gaze fell onto Jurina in expectation, silently seeking for support. To her greatest astonishment, her girlfriend didn’t seem opposed to the idea and didn’t object, instead saying that it was a good idea and, without further delay, planting a quick kiss on her cheek before entering the shop with Airi.

Rena was left frozen on the spot, stupefied by what had just occurred, before glancing back hesitantly to the silent girl behind her. Rena considered what to say, feeling the uncomfortable tension stretching between them. “It looks like they will be here for a while,” Rena spoke up, slanting another glance in the direction of the shop, only to discover that Jurina and Airi were now engaged in a conversation. “I guess we should just do as they suggested and come back a little later.”

Rena regarded Akane back in expectation and, as she received a quiet nod in reply, slowly turned on her heels as they began to walk back towards the Christmas market. Rena did her best to ease up but failed to appreciate the light, festive atmosphere surrounding her as much as she wished. “Did you enjoy your weekend at the convention?” Rena asked, her voice deliberately casual, not wishing to let her own edginess transpire. “Did you manage to see everything you wanted?”

“Oh… yes,” Akane’s voice trailed away uneasily. “It was terribly crowded in the afternoon, but some big announcements were made, so I’m glad I was able to come.”

“When such a convention isn’t crowded anyway?” Rena tried to break the heavy atmosphere with a joke. “But it’s what makes all the fun, doesn’t it?” When she saw Akane’s features slowly relaxing, Rena was compelled to continue. “The satisfaction of obtaining an exclusive product or a few interesting goodies, or to meet an artist that you admire. It’s what makes us ready to brave the crowd.”

“It’s true,” Akane conceded with a smile. After a shrinking pause, she added. “And the movie adaptation of the Promised Neverland was amazing. I had already seen the TV anime, but they added new, exclusive scenes in the movie. The animation was truly mind-blowing. They are already planning a sequel for 2022.”

Rena nodded, listening in interest. Akane’s enthusiasm was now clearly perceptible in her tone, and the previous, heavy atmosphere was slowly dissipating. Akane, Airi and herself shared more than one passion in common, yet they never had had the possibility to talk about it so freely until now. How come? Rena asked herself, before acknowledging that she and Akane always had certain differences in SKE48.

Was this conversation finally the opportunity Rena had been waiting for to mend the rift between them? Akane was now admiring the magnificent parterre made up of hundreds of red, heart-shaped incandescent light bulbs and Rena carefully maneuvered her thoughts, wishing to find the best way to broach this sensitive subject. Eventually, Akane was the first to speak up.

“There’s something… There’s something I want to tell you,” Akane stopped and looked at her a little apprehensively. “I know my words might not be enough to make things right between us, but I would like to apologize for the way I treated you all this time. I should never have judged you or spoken to you the way I did. It was unfair and childish of me.”

Rena didn’t expect such openness, taken aback by Akane’s genuine expression of regret. “You don’t need to apologize. Jurina is extremely lucky to have such a good friend who cares about her the way you do.”

“I never tried to understand you,” Akane’s voice dropped to a whisper; she looked away in shame. “I had no right to be so impolite and talk to you so drily during Jurina’s graduation concert. I know my behavior might have given that impression, but I want you to know that it was never personal.” She dared to meet her gaze again, her tone more confident. “I always respected you for everything you’ve accomplished in the group. SKE48 would never have been so successful without your dedication and tenacity. I know I can never justify my behavior towards you. I just hope that one day…”

“You were trying to protect Jurina,” Rena answered comprehensively. “And I want you to know that I never held it against you. I know that you only meant well. If there’s anyone who should apologize, it’s me. I know that your relationship with Airin suffered because of me. It was never my intention to draw Airin and you apart, and after this weekend… I want to believe that it’s not too late. That the damage I’ve done can be repaired.”

“I’m mostly responsible for what happened between Airin and me,” Akane smiled sadly, before adding, a glimmer of hope filling her voice. “But after this weekend, I want to believe that I can learn from my mistakes and nothing is irreversible. That’s why I wanted to seize that chance to make things right not only with Airin, but also with you. Because I can tell our lives will once more be intrinsically linked. Am I wrong?”

“I love Jurina from the bottom of my heart,” Rena spoke softly and sincerely, easily understanding the deeper meaning, the hidden question between the lines. “And I don’t want to imagine a future without her.”

Akane’s face creased into a sudden smile. “I’ve been watching you two all weekend, and I don’t doubt your feelings for her anymore. I can tell Jurina is truly happy, and it’s all that matters to me. And maybe, maybe it’s not too late for us to put the past behind and get to know each other better?”

Rena knew what Akane was asking: a fresh start. The words left her lips naturally. “Yes, I would like that too.”

Rena had time to witness a warm, glow of satisfaction entering Akane’s eyes before she distinguished Jurina’s voice calling her and she glanced over her shoulder, seeing both their friends joining them with small, white boxes in their hands. Rena’s mouth curved with tenderness while Jurina showed enthusiastically the content of her box, before the four of them slowly resumed their exploration of the Christmas market.

Rena sneaked a discreet peek at Akane, a feeling of relief sweeping through her chest after their conversation. It wasn’t exactly how she had envisioned this moment between them, and she had been undeniably deeply touched by Akane’s sincere request for forgiveness. Today, Rena could tell a decisive step had been made, and Akane’s peace offering marked a turning point in their relationship.

It was 6 p.m. sharp when the lights went on and the instrumental overture, Open sesame, sounded loudly through the speakers. As the drummer, guitarist, and all the other musicians and dancers of the band took place on stage, the crowd waved their glowing fans in rhythm with the lively music, until the arrival of the much-anticipated female lead singer sent the crowd in a frenzy, cheering as Miwa took place behind the mic.

“Good evening, my Wonder Babies!”

As soon as the 2:30 min opening faded, the first song of the showcase, My time to shine, resonated, Jurina getting dragged into the joyful atmosphere while the whole crowd sang along the lyrics of the 2014’ J-pop song. Now and then, Jurina’s gaze drifted from the main stage to the huge singing crowd around her, amazed by their joy, dynamism and positive energy.

It wasn’t the first time Jurina attended a Dreams come True’s concert; she had accompanied Rena to a few of them in the past. Yet, the fans’ amazing loyalty and dedication never failed to impress her. To begin with, mostly women listened to their music and attended the band’s concerts, a sharp contrast with idols’ main audience. Jurina might not be a fervent adept of the group as Rena proved to be, she had to recognize that their cheerful music put you in a good mood effortlessly.

The following hour went flying by, the songs flowing naturally and following each other intelligently bringing, one after another, quite different moods. The band continued with songs from their new 2020’ album, until the atmosphere relaxed and settled down with a couple of slow, romantic melodies. When the bassist, Masato, emblematic figure and co-founder of the group, announced that the next song would be the last, the crowd manifested its slight disappointment, wishing the show to go on, before the first notes of Winter Song began to play in the air.

The dusk is gaining ground, lights flicker all around

And as I walk the lonely street, the snow is falling ever faster

Looking to the sky, I wonder where you are

The way you came into my life, filling every day with laughter

Almost blind by the snowflakes on my face

Despite the chill I feel the warmth of your embrace

Artificial snow was projected all over the crowd and every audience’s member looked up to the sky, in a mixture of surprise and awe. The snowflakes falling above their heads didn’t only enhance the romantic atmosphere of the sweet ballade, it also reminded everyone of the snow that had fallen in abundance the previous day in Tokyo, and that still covered in a few places the pavement and parks of the city.

I want to show you everything I see, the way I’m feeling

I need to be with you tonight, to hold your arms around me

My love for you is deeper than the deepest snows of winter

The greatest gift I ever had was you

Jurina chanced a glance at Rena who was standing by her side and watched her expression closely, seeing her eyes riveted on the main stage. Rena’s current happiness was greatly communicative and Jurina’s heart pounded, finding her especially beautiful tonight. When she noticed a few snowflakes on Rena’s black, winter coat, she swept them away delicately, Rena instantly glancing back at her. Rena’s whole face brightened with pleasure and Jurina found it impossible not to return the smile, before leaning her head on Rena’s shoulder and bathing in the romantic atmosphere enveloping them.

It was 7 p.m. when the mini-showcase came to a final end and the crowd slowly dispersed in the streets. Jurina fell quietly into step next to Rena as they left the avenue and took the direction of the restaurant, thinking back to the wonderful concert they had just attended, before suddenly feeling Rena seizing her hand. “Are you happy?”

Jurina looked back at her in surprise, taken aback by the question, before smiling. “You already know the answer. Of course, I’m happy. I’m happy because tonight is a beautiful night. I’m happy because this weekend was perfect in every way possible. But mostly, I’m happy because we’re here together. I don’t think I could ever be happier.”

“Then I’m glad,” Rena whispered softly.

Slowly, they resumed their walk, Jurina soon distinguishing in the distance the French restaurant they had booked for dinner for their last evening in the capital. Unconsciously, Jurina slowed down her pace, realizing it was time to share with the other girl the important decision she had made. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said after the movies, and you were right.”

“Right about what?” Rena gently asked.

“About my mom. I cannot keep avoiding her and ignoring her messages,” Jurina said seriously. “A part of me will probably never forget what she did, but I want to believe that I’m capable of understanding and forgiveness. But I don’t want to have dinner with her alone. I want you to come with me. Would you accept?”

Rena’s lips parted in surprise. “Are you… are you sure?”

“I am,” Jurina replied confidently. “For so long, I refused to tell her about us. I was afraid that she wouldn’t understand and would look at me differently. I was afraid that she would reject you, and I knew my heart wouldn’t handle it if I had to choose between you and her. But when she confessed to me that she knew about our relationship, I realized that I had it wrong all this time. She always liked, respected and accepted you: I was just too blinded by my fears to see the truth.”

Jurina paused, gathering up her courage. “That’s why I don’t want to have to hide my feelings for you in front of her anymore. I want her to witness with her own eyes how important you are to me. So… will you come with me?”

Jurina knew that Rena caught the double-meaning and perfectly understood that she wouldn’t be introducing her as a simple friend. For a moment, she felt a little apprehensive, wondering if she maybe wasn’t asking too much of her, going too fast when they had barely reconciled and reconnected. She could almost see the gears turning within Rena’s head as the older girl remained silent, until a soft and loving curve touched Rena’s lips. “If that’s what you really desire, then yes, of course I will come with you.”

Jurina beamed with happiness and released a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Wordlessly, she slowly drew Rena towards her and wrapped her arms around her waist, whispering, promising once more her infinite affection, devotion and love for her. When the words were softly spoken in return, her heart gave a flutter and she gently tightened her hold around the girl she was proud to call her girlfriend, growing by every minute more excited about her future with Rena.


« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 02:24:47 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline Kyuartz

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #722 on: December 25, 2018, 05:46:55 PM »
Nice chapter as always  :on GJ: :on GJ:
They're just so sweet
It's finally time for J to introduce R to her mom properly
Can't wait to read the next chapter
but I'll also be sad cause it would be the last chapter
Anyway, good job author-san and I'll patiently wait for the next chapter

Offline Rhythm

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #723 on: December 26, 2018, 02:41:17 AM »
Yes jurina will bring rena to her mom and then get married!  :deco: :deco:
oh and sophcaro san, i know that you a reaally faithful wmatsui shipper, but do you have another jurina ship?
thank you for the update btw  :cow:

Offline Bukiyou Taiyou

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #724 on: December 28, 2018, 02:36:50 PM »
Oh hi, Santa! Thank you for this wonderful Christmas gift. A new chapter on Christmas Day is lovely; it’s like we have more gifts to celebrate hehe…

I know it’s been years that WMatsui didn’t keep in touch –literally and figuratively– but in this chapter they did kiss a lot haha! I counted they at least kissed 10 or 11 times, and it doesn’t even include those lingering kisses. :shy1:

Quote from: Sophcaro
“In the morning or in the evening. With or without makeup. When you were all sweaty from dancing and exhausted after a long day of rehearsal with the group. Nevermind the day, the time, or the circumstances, you were still the most gorgeous girl in the room to me.”
Jurina once again proved that she’s a sweet talker. :onionwhip:

Quote from: Sophcaro
For a while, they quietly stayed into each other’s arms, simply enjoying each other’s warmth and presence. Jurina allowed herself to relax, refusing to move away from the comfortable position they had settled in.
I feel you, Jurina. I would do exactly the same.

The morning went very well to both Matsui, especially Jurina for some reason. No wonder if Jurina felt like she was on top of the world.   :glasses:

Anyway, the movie they watched together was Leap Year (2010), right? I got it when I learned it was about a sophisticated Boston girl and a gruff Irish bartender. I wonder why they watched it instead of…Home Alone haha! When it came to a Dreams Come True’s mini concert, trust me I also listen to their Winter Song to get the feel hehe… This song is indeed perfect for a snowy December.

I always love Christmas market, and your description of it was on point. From a small and cute rabbit hidden in the deep artificial snow to a red, heart-shaped sparkling lollipop on sale, I can imagine the ambience.

I’m glad that Rena and Churi could mend their relationship. And I think it’s about time that Jurina would do the same with her mother.

Jurina and Rena were truly a lovebird in this chapter.

Quote from: Sophcaro
…from the smiles they occasionally exchanged while they were engaged in a conversation, to the physical proximity highlighted by their casual handholding.
…from the hand that refused to let go of Rena’s, and too often played with her fingers. To the smile full of love and adoration she harbored each time her eyes landed on the older girl.

Way to go, girls!

Thank you for the update, Santa Sophcaro!

Ps. I have a good hunch about a French restaurant where they would have a dinner. I think they are embracing their “la vie en rose” moment now.

Offline Minami-chan

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #725 on: December 31, 2018, 12:06:19 AM »
It seems that this story is nearing the end.
It will be a real pity to read the final chapter after so many years following this story, this story has enchanted me.

Anyway, I'm glad that Jurina invited Rena to eat with Jurina's mother.
Jurina really must forgive her mother. I also think that the three should talk about what happened in the past.
they have to leave that chapter behind to look to the future.

Happy New Year!

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #726 on: December 31, 2018, 02:34:43 AM »

Nice chapter as always  :on GJ: :on GJ:
They're just so sweet
It's finally time for J to introduce R to her mom properly

Yes jurina will bring rena to her mom and then get married!  :deco: :deco:

Anyway, I'm glad that Jurina invited Rena to eat with Jurina's mother.
Jurina really must forgive her mother. I also think that the three should talk about what happened in the past.
they have to leave that chapter behind to look to the future.

Next chapter will be a time jump six months later, so we won't actually get to see this conversation between Jurina-Rena-Yumiko. Yet, I believe I left enough hints in this chapter to let readers know that Jurina will obviously reconcile with her mother, and the latter will accept Rena without any issue  :yep:

but I'll also be sad cause it would be the last chapter

It seems that this story is nearing the end.
It will be a real pity to read the final chapter after so many years following this story, this story has enchanted me.

It will also be strange for me to end it, trust me! After all, this trilogy has been 4 years of my life.

oh and sophcaro san, i know that you a reaally faithful wmatsui shipper, but do you have another jurina ship?

I guess I should have added "exclusive" behind faithful  :lol:
WMatsui is my only ship for Jurina.

I know it’s been years that WMatsui didn’t keep in touch –literally and figuratively– but in this chapter they did kiss a lot haha! I counted they at least kissed 10 or 11 times, and it doesn’t even include those lingering kisses. :shy1:

It's never too much  :P

Anyway, the movie they watched together was Leap Year (2010), right? I got it when I learned it was about a sophisticated Boston girl and a gruff Irish bartender. I wonder why they watched it instead of…Home Alone haha!

Yes, it was Leap Year!
I chose this movie because, not only I love it, it's also a good balance of romance and comedy, which is the mood I was looking for this chapter.

I’m glad that Rena and Churi could mend their relationship.

Considering how difficult their relationship has been throughout the trilogy, I believed it was essential to reconcile Rena and Churi before the end. To me, this scene between them is one of the most important passages of chapter 39.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 01:30:01 AM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline ojuri 0513

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #727 on: December 31, 2018, 05:13:58 AM »
Waah you should really released a book you know sophcaro san your fanfic are really amazing you know

Offline Crisl

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Re: Heartbeat (20/20) + Partners (23/23) + Destiny (39/40) [WMatsui] - 25/12/2018
« Reply #728 on: December 31, 2018, 02:37:13 PM »
Одна из лучших работ, которую я читала в последнее время. Спасибо огромное! Ждем финала

И с новым годом!

One of the best papers I've read lately. Thank you! Waiting for the final

And happy new year!

Offline facarous

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Hello, Sophcaro!

Where should I start? There are many things for which I feel happy and excited!

We have this light initial scene where the mood is comical and simple. We have Jurina being playful, funny and cheesy and the only thing I can think about is how tender she's and that if I were Rena ... well, you know ... :inlove: :inlove:

I'm so happy to see they together in a light atmosphere, enjoying each other.

However, despite the quiet atmosphere, in this chapter you talked about very important things. First, the confirmation of the love between both of them thanks to that special ring, also that conversation between Churi and Rena, of course, is I'm not going to forget the problem between Jurina and her mother.

You did a great job organizing the anteroom for the final chapter! :bow:

Honestly, I'm very anxious for what will be the last chapter, but I can not help but feel some sadness because the trilogy is about to end.
It is thanks to this trilogy that I got to know you!

I do not know what happens in the final chapter, but if there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that you'll do an excellent job as always.

I love how you always seem to be attentive to what it's really important and not get carried away by banal issues. In this chapter, definitely the climax is the conversation between Churi and Rena, at least it is what I believe.

Thanks for your great work!!
See you again!
WMatsui forever!!!! :deco:

Offline Guacamoolee

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THANK YOU FOR THE BEAUTIFUL CHAPTER!!! I kept re-reading before I finally decided to write a comment.

I know it's A BIT late but, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
I'm sorry for the late comment :sweatdrop: :sweatdrop:

There are so many part that I love in this chapter but my favourite is this part:

“Listen to me,” Rena cradled Jurina’s face between her palms, delicately wiping away her tears one after another. “I know I’m a clumsy, flawed 29-year-old girl who still sometimes has difficulty expressing how she feels. For so many years, I did not want to meddle with matters of the heart. It took me so long to accept that I needed you in my life more than I thought. To come to the realization that I had fallen in love with my flirty, sometimes childish, yet caring, faithful and passionate WCenter. This heart belongs to you,” Rena held Jurina’s hand inside hers and placed it against her beating heart. “It has never beaten for anyone else but you. And as long as you want me in your life, as long as your love for me stays intact, I vow to never, ever leave your side again.”

I swear I almost shed tears :tntrm:

I like the christmas market part, too!!! It makes me wanna go there and hopefully I meet them :lol:

Actually there's so much I want to say but I think it's better to save it for the last chapter :glasses:

Bravo, author-san!!! I love this chapter so muuuuch!!!
Thank you for your hardwork!

P.s. As I remember, you still have one unfinished WMatsui fanfic, right? :grin:

Offline ojuri 0513

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Author san if this fanfic is done will you continue another fanfic that you pause like warrior or back in time

Offline sophcaro

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Author's note: Thanks to everyone who commented on chapter 39! As usual, I always love reading people's thoughts! It's not only enjoyable to receive feedback, it's also highly motivating. I apologize for the long wait, but I had to properly sort out my ideas for this last chapter, and make sure not to forget any detail during its preparation. While I was writing it, this chapter 40 was getting longer than planned, so I decided to divide it in two parts. The second part will be coming up in May, followed by the epilogue, final conclusion of the trilogy.

Part 1

Eight months later.

Haneda airport was crowded on this Saturday morning, between the permanent come and go of tourists entering the Japanese territory, and the flow of passengers waiting for their plane to take off. It hadn’t taken more than half an hour for Jurina and Rena to check-in their baggage at the All Nippon Airways counter, then pass the security control, and were as for now settled down in the departure waiting room. Rena retrieved a book from her backpack, before reading the airline’s company information screen: their flight was due for takeoff at 11:45 a.m. as planned, and their boarding time had been announced.

“We’ll be boarding in 45 minutes,” Rena spoke up. When she received no answer, she tilted her head to her traveling companion.

Jurina was desperately trying to stay awake, her head having already on several occasions leaned towards her side and fallen upon her shoulder. Rena smiled fondly, conscious her girlfriend was sleep deprived. But how could it be otherwise? All month, Jurina was so excited about their upcoming holidays that she had been unable to contain her enthusiasm, going through their program and all the places they planned to visit. To add it up, Rena suspected that Jurina hadn’t slept that much last night, considering the number of times she had turned over in bed.

Well, at least, she would be able to take advantage of their 12-and-a-half-hour flight to catch up on sleep, Rena hoped.

As she was ready to plunge herself back into her reading, two eyes fluttered open and slowly gazed back at her. “Sorry, did you…” Jurina covered her mouth with her palm when a small yawn escaped her. “Did you say something?”

“I wanted to take a look around the different shops.” Rena placed a bookmark at the page, and closed the book on her lap. “Will you be fine? Do you want something to drink?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Jurina answered, blinking the sleep away. “I wouldn’t mind Ramune. Straw-” When her stomach growled, she stiffened. “Strawberry flavored, if they have it. Please.”

“I can buy you something to eat too, but lunch will be served on the plane,” Rena reminded her, not bothering to hide her amusement.

“No, I’ll wait,” Jurina straightened up, before checking her phone in concern. “They still haven’t arrived yet. Maybe… Maybe I should call to check where they are?”

“I’m sure they’ll be here soon,” Rena tried to sound reassuring, raising herself from her seat. “I’m leaving my backpack with you. I won’t be long.”

“Take your time,” Jurina left her phone aside, grabbing her Ipod and untangling the earpieces. “I’ll listen to music. It will keep me awake.”

“Alright,” Rena caressed her shoulder, then grabbed her wallet and made her way out the departure waiting room. By the way the place was being filled with passengers progressively, she figured out their flight would probably be full. It didn’t come as a real surprise: it was, after all, a destination of choice.

Rena wandered around the halls of the airport, passing by the several perfume, clothing and souvenirs shops, then made a halt at the Books & Drugs store. She went through the magazines at the front, finding none of her interest, before taking a look at the book section, notably the latest releases. There would be plenty of occupation on the plane, with the large selection of movies to watch, to the games, books and music she had brought along with her, yet her attention got caught by the mysterious cover of a foreign novel.

Removing it from the shelf, she flipped the book over to read the backcover, discovering it was a French writer whose works had been recently translated into Japanese. Her interest was piqued by the pitch, a science-fiction story mingling romance, drama and time traveling. Well-decided to add that book to her reading list, she moved in the direction of checkout with her next purchase, when she was distracted by the sound of her cellphone vibrating. While waiting in line, she checked the screen, reading the text she had received.


Please look over my daughter and make sure she doesn’t get lost when you’re abroad; she always had a terrible sense of direction. If you could also remind her to send me messages and pictures from time to time, I would be truthfully grateful. We both know how distracted she can be when she’s in good company and enjoying herself, and she can tend to slightly forget about her worrying mother.

Have a safe flight.


Rena chuckled softly at the last words and typed back a short reassuring message, before replacing the device inside her pocket. When it was her turn to pay, she advanced towards the cashier, handing out her Suica card to the employee, then walked out the store to retrace her steps back to the waiting room. With her brand-new book, a couple of snacks, the drink Jurina had requested and her own melon soda secured in a plastic bag, Yumiko’s last text stayed imprinted in her mind, making her reflect upon the bond she had forged with Jurina’s mother those past few months.

If she had to be perfectly sincere, it had not been without a certain apprehension that she had followed Jurina to the dinner organized by her mother at the beginning of January. It clearly wasn’t the first time she met Yumiko, as she had interacted and crossed her path on dozens of occasions when she and Jurina were members of the idol group. However, the special circumstances surrounding this dinner in particular couldn’t help but slightly worry her about its outcome.

Rena was fully aware that Jurina had every intention of formally introducing her as her girlfriend: she had expressed clear determination on the subject. But, further than that, and despite wanting to remain optimistic, it was hard to predict how this reunion would turn out, considering the recent fallout between Jurina and her mother. Was Yumiko ready to openly accept their intimate relationship? But most of all, would Jurina manage to put the past behind and reconcile with her?

The first few seconds, when they had passed the door of the family home and exchanged polite greetings, had been marked by a certain tension in the air. Rena had let Jurina take the lead, remaining quieter than usual, cautious not to cross boundaries as she refused to commit any unfortunate blunder in the light of all the stakes at hand. As the evening progressed and the conversations became less awkward and more natural, Yumiko’s behavior startled her pleasantly. Jurina’s mother was doing everything in her capacity to put them both at ease. Her intention to mend the rift with her daughter was more than manifest in her gentle approach, and every affectionate word addressed to her.

During the course of dinner, Rena witnessed the renewed complicity between mother and daughter. No mention was ever made of the events that had been at the origin of the conflict. It wasn’t necessary: everything had already been shared, confessed, and explained at length. The purpose of this dinner wasn’t to dwell over the past and reopen old wounds, but to make peace and look towards a brighter future. More than once, Jurina had turned to her side and not been shy to speak tenderly about her, even make light affectionate gestures, whether a brief touch of her hand or a gentle, innocent kiss on the cheek, in Yumiko’s presence.

Rena hadn’t hesitated to reply to a few of them, while paying attention to her mother’s reaction, in case of any sign of unease. Much as Jurina wanted to openly be herself in front of her mother, the last thing Rena wished was to make the latter feel uncomfortable. To her greatest relief, Yumiko had responded in a favorable way to every single demonstration of affection expressed, even surprising them both when she had openly stated that she wholeheartedly considered Rena as a member of the family, and she would always be welcomed at home.

Jurina’s eyes had shimmered in reaction, and she would be lying if she said she hadn’t felt warmth spreading through her chest at the verbal acceptation of her role in Jurina’s life. This dinner constituted not only a key turning point in the relationship between Jurina and her mother, but also in regards to her own with Yumiko. The following months, it wasn’t rare that they would exchange texts, and she gladly went along with Jurina when she was invited for dinner at the family home, each and single time received and treated very warmly.

In March, her relationship with the younger girl took on a higher level when they moved in together in Tokyo. When Rena suggested to Jurina this new living arrangement one evening over dinner, it had been a well-considered decision. She was fully conscious of what leaving their respective apartments and find a new place of their own implied. It was one thing to date and love someone, it was another to accept to have them share your personal space on a daily basis.

For so many years, Rena had valued her independence above all, yet she was forced to admit than nothing had ever completely been the same anymore when her heart began to beat for Jurina. When she voiced her wish to live together, and witnessed her girlfriend radiating joy and happiness, she didn’t feel an ounce of doubt within her about this important decision. Jurina hadn’t waited to announce it to her mother over the phone, the latter receiving the news with joy, and giving them her unconditional support.

One week, when Jurina had to travel abroad for the shooting of a TV commercial, Rena had taken the direction of Toyohashi, her hometown, conscious it was time to share with her parents the recent important changes in her life. Being an idol, then an actress, prevented her from seeing her family as often as she would like. Nevermind the circumstances and her busy schedule, Rena had constantly tried to maintain a close contact with them, exchanging frequent texts and phone calls to keep them updating on her professional life, and the doubts sometimes placating her.

However, as much as Jurina had preferred to keep their relationship secret from her mother for so many years, her own relationship status had been a subject she had equally carefully kept private. When she and Jurina rekindled the flame in December, then took this next important step in their life by moving in together, the strong and long-lasting nature of their love didn’t make any more doubt to her. Rena knew it was the right moment to make her relationship with Jurina official.

Rena was certain about her decision of being upfront with them, yet a natural flicker of apprehension had surged within her when she had announced the news to her parents. They had listened to her attentively, not manifesting any sign of disapproval or even expressing much astonishment. She didn’t ask, yet the lack of real surprise made Rena wonder if they had already figured it out, and if something she might have said in the past concerning Jurina had betrayed her true feelings.

When her mother suggested her to bring ‘young Jurina-chan’ along with her next time - an affectionate nickname she had given her for so many years, and from the very first moment they WCentered SKE48 - Rena couldn’t help but bathe in nostalgia. Gently reminding her mother that Jurina had grown up a lot these last few years, and was far from the child her mother still had in mind, Rena agreed to do so, fulfilling her promise when she and Jurina visited her family hometown two months later.

“Stay with daddy. I’ll go buy some drinks.”


Jurina glanced up from her IPod, observing the child who had arrived with her parents and taken a seat opposite her in the airport waiting room. The little Japanese girl, who couldn’t have been more than 5, opened her pink Hello Kitty backpack, taking out a children book along with a 3DS. She made herself comfortable into the chair and hesitated between both choices, then slipped the reading book by her side to place the console on her lap. Switching it on, her fingers soon quickly pressed the buttons as she got invested in her game.

Jurina followed her actions in amusement, the child’s passion and undivided attention on her game reminding her so much of someone else. When the girl groaned and squirmed in her seat, visibly displeased with the direction her game was taking, the book by her side slipped and fell down. Jurina didn’t wait to remove her earpieces and got up from her seat, kneeling down to grab the fallen book. “Here.”

A pair of startled eyes fell upon her. “Ah, thank you…” the little girl bowed slightly, a small guilty look crossing her features as she placed it back inside her backpack.

“It’s nothing,” Jurina brushed it off, going back to her seat. A quick look at the silent father beside the child told her he had fallen asleep, briefly acknowledging the wedding band on his ring finger.

“Daddy works late,” the little girl whispered.

“Oh, I see,” Jurina whispered back. When the little girl looked down to her console and resumed her game, curiosity got the best of Jurina when a frown gradually appeared on her face. “The game is too difficult?”

“I can’t catch it,” the little girl mumbled. “Can you… Can you help me?”

“Well I…” Jurina hesitated, but couldn’t resist the hopeful look directed at her. “I can try,” she offered, the little girl’s face immediately brightening.

Jurina accepted the console yet, after multiple attempts of trying to catch the recalcitrant Pokemon, she had to concede defeat. “I’m sorry. I’m not good with games,” she winced at the girl’s blatant disappointment. “I know someone who is clearly better than me, but she left. I’m sure she’ll be able to help you when she comes back.”

“You’re not alone?” The little girl seemed genuinely surprised.

“No, I’m not. I’m traveling with some friends and…” Jurina’s voice trailed away, before adding more confidently. “And someone very special to me.”

“A boyfriend?”

Jurina’s eyes widened, taken aback by the girl’s directness. “No…” she suppressed a smile. “Not a boyfriend.”

“You are not married?” She asked again, Jurina not missing the way her new curious friend was studying her hand intently. “But you have a ring like daddy and mommy.”

Jurina glanced down to the silver ring on her finger. “Ah, that’s not a wedding ring,” Jurina explained, facing the little girl’s confusion. “But I cherish it a lot.”

Jurina believed the conversation to be over when her interlocutor didn’t utter another word and focused on her game, frenetically pressing buttons, only to lower her 3DS the moment after. “I don’t like boys. They are stupid. I like Yukiko better.”

“Who is Yukiko?” Jurina found her interest piqued.

“Yukiko is my friend,” The little girl straightened up proudly in her seat. “We always play together and I want to spend my life with her.”

Jurina couldn’t help but find the little girl’s honesty and candor truly adorable. “I’m happy you have such a good friend.”

“I brought you your drink,” Jurina jumped a little, startled at the familiar sound of Rena’s voice. So engrossed in her conversation with her recent friend, she had failed to notice her coming back and approaching. “I also bought some snacks,” Rena took back her seat, and passed her the Ramone Strawberry flavor soda from the plastic bag. “For later on the plane.”

“Thanks,” Jurina sent her a grateful smile. Pulling the cap off, she took a few generous sips, surprising herself at how thirsty she was.

While Rena was busy putting away her recent purchases into her backpack, Jurina diverted her attention to her previous young companion who had fallen extremely quiet, only to discover the little girl watching them both intently. “No, you don’t need a boyfriend. You have better.”

Jurina blinked at her enigmatic words, before noting the little girl’s giddy expression as she was now staring at Rena’s matching ring. Jurina opened her mouth to speak yet she didn’t have the opportunity to answer that the mother had returned, giving her daughter a soft drink that she had bought for her. The mother’s arrival and conversation with her daughter had also led the head of the family to stir up from his short nap, and Jurina understood that her unexpected yet interesting conversation with the little girl had come to an end.

“Do you know her?” Rena whispered in her ear, shifting closer. “What did she mean by that?”

Jurina dragged her eyes away from the cute family scene, listening as the little girl was badgering her mother to help her with the game. “You know, sometimes,” Jurina said, suppressing with difficulty her amusement. “I think children are much more perceptive than adults.”

The boarding of the flight NH215 is about to start. Group A, please approach the counter and have your passport and plane ticket ready.

Jurina put her things away and stood up at the public announcement, following Rena who – after carefully making sure they hadn’t left anything behind – was the first to progress towards the waiting line. “Maybe… Maybe I should call them,” Jurina said tentatively, once more checking her cellphone. “Don’t you think it’s strange? Something must have happened. They should already have arrived by now.”

“I’m sure they would have warned us if something serious happened. There was probably a little traffic, or they were delayed at security control,” Rena suggested, remaining optimistic, yet knew by her girlfriend’s worried expression that her words were not having the desired effect. “But you’re right, you should send a text to check where they are.”

Jurina didn’t wait any further to quickly start typing a message on her phone, until pausing when Rena gave her a small tap on the shoulder. “After consideration, I don’t think it will be necessary.”

Jurina, taken aback by Rena’s strange little smile, turned around to follow her gaze, only to see two very familiar faces approaching their direction. “What…” Jurina couldn’t contain herself any longer. “What took you so long?!”

“Why? We’re on time, aren’t we?” Mayu said casually.

Jurina’s jaw dropped. “Barely!”

“It was that taxi driver’s fault!” Yuki protested, throwing her hands into the air with a gesture of despair. “From the moment we left the apartment, I had a bad feeling about him. First, he drove atrociously slowly and got all the red lights. Then, he managed to bring us right into traffic, and failed to find an alternative route. And finally, he dropped us at the wrong terminal! Can you believe it?”

“It’s true that you are often unlucky with taxi drivers,” Rena replied seriously, a flash of humor breaking through her face.

“I know!” Yuki shook her head in exasperation, failing to catch the playful undertone in Rena’s voice. “I wanted to send both of you a text to warn you, but Mayuyu said there was no use and we would make it on time. Thank God we left home in advance, otherwise who knows what could have happened? We could have missed the flight!”

“You’ve arrived on time, it’s all that matters,” Rena stated, looking alternately between Yuki and Mayu, before giving Jurina’s arm a light, comforting squeeze. “Everything is fine. Everyone is here. And it’s now time to board the plane.”

“You’re right,” Jurina’s features relaxed. “Now that we’re all here, I wanted to say,” she spoke up solemnly, facing the other couple. “I’m conscious that it wasn’t easy for us to find a week we were all available at the same time, but I’m really happy we’re going on holidays together.” She turned to meet Rena’s gaze, and looked her full in the eye for a moment. “I really, really am.”

“I had missed it too,” Yuki smiled in agreement.

“Let’s be honest,” Mayu chimed in. “It’s not our fault if you had such a tight schedule these last 8 months. Between your TV commercials, dramas and everything, you were probably the busiest of all.”

“Me?” Jurina exclaimed, incredulity surging within her. “What about you?! You were busy shooting a movie for almost 6 months!”

Rena let out a laugh, not missing Mayu’s playful expression. “I think we can all agree that everyone of us was swamped with work. But you’re right.” She slipped her hand inside Jurina’s, giving her fingers a brief, gentle squeeze. “I’m also glad that we were all able to clear our schedule for the occasion. So, let’s make sure to make this week holiday as memorable as possible?”

“Yes,” Jurina replied, momentarily caught off guard by the mysterious twinkle in Rena’s small brown orbs. “It will be my first time there,” she admitted, feeling a rush of anticipation. “So I want to enjoy every minute of it.”

The boarding of the flight NH215 is starting. Group A, please approach the counter and have your passport and plane ticket ready.

At the second announcement, they all fell quiet and patiently waited for their turn in the waiting line, until Rena remembered a certain topic she wanted to share with Jurina. “By the way, your mother sent me a text earlier on.”

“She did?” Jurina raised her eyebrows in astonishment. “Why? What did she want?”

“Oh, nothing out of the ordinary. Only making sure I would take good care of her precious daughter while we’re abroad,” Rena said teasingly.

A flush of embarrassment crept into Jurina’s cheeks. “I can’t believe she would bother you for that. She sends you too many trivial messages lately. It can’t continue. Just give me the word, and I’ll ask her to stop.”

“Don’t. I really don’t mind,” Rena chuckled.

Jurina went silent, uncertain. “I still think she’s going a bit too far…”

When the passenger in front of Rena passed the counter, the older Matsui extended her passport and plane ticket to the female staff, before moving forward and waiting aside for Jurina’s turn. “Actually, I kind of like it,” she continued sincerely, as they walked down the corridor leading them to their Boeing 737, Mayu and Yuki following closely behind. “In a way, I’m glad that she does. It means she completely trusts me around you.”

“Of course, she does. She loves you as much as I do,” Jurina replied, her tone softening. “Well, I mean.” A mischievous expression appeared on her face. “Not as much as I love you, that’s not possible.” When Rena giggled and shook her head in response, Jurina hid a smile, aware of how terribly corny she sounded. Not that she truly cared anyway: when Rena was concerned, she refused to be shy about her affection for her.

Two female Japanese flight attendants welcomed them on board and Jurina responded to the polite greeting, following Rena as she led them towards the Premium Economy seats. After making sure to have at their disposal everything they needed for their long international flight, they put away their bags in the luggage compartment, Jurina feeling a mixture of excitement and impatience as she settled down in her seat.

Their anticipated 1-week holiday was starting.

« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 06:18:09 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline Bukiyou Taiyou

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Wow…Rena is such a sweet and caring girlfriend. I love how she subtly showed her affection towards Jurina with some little gestures hehe… I feel warm when she did that. :k-inlove:

Contrary to Rena, Jurina was more straightforward and admit it, she was cutely corny. :on lol:

Quote from: Sophcaro
“Of course she does. She loves you as much as I do,” Jurina replied, her tone softening. “Well, I mean.” A mischievous expression appeared on her face. “Not as much as I love you, that’s not possible.”

So many things happened in eight months: both had officially ‘introduced’ each other as a girlfriend to their respective parents and now they even live together. Everything was bright and sunny about their current relationship. WMatsui deserved it. :bath:

It’s lovely that Rena and Jurina would have a one-week vacation with Mayuyu and Yukirin. (It’s a relief that MaYuki didn’t come late; I could almost see how Yukirin reacted about their taxi driver.) They could recreate happy moment (or even better) like when they had spent the vacation together on the beach house.

Quote from: Sophcaro
“Yes,” Jurina replied, momentarily caught off guard by the mysterious twinkle in Rena’s small brown orbs.

I wonder what would happen there. Why so mysterious, Rena? Let me know what you plan in your head.

I have a hunch about their destination. (To be honest, I googled NH215 hehe…) But even before that, I kinda knew this had something to do with their choice of place to have dinner in chapter 39.

Quote from: Sophcaro
“No, you don’t need a boyfriend. You have better.”

The little girl said the truth about Rena. As expected from a pure mini human. :k-great:

Ps. I know you did some “cameo” here, Author-san. :glasses:

Thank you for writing this chapter. You did a good job!

Offline Minami-chan

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Very good update.
With all the news that is lately it's a relief to be reading this fan fiction.

About the fan fic.
The meeting of Jurina and Rena with Yumiko was expected and desired by all. I'm glad that everything went well, and everyone is happy.
now to enjoy them, of their week of vacations, and with it of the end of this magnificent saga.

Offline facarous

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Hello, Sophcaro.

Thank you very much for your hard work!!

With the end already so close to this fic I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic. However I also feel very happy about the way you're writing the last part of the trilogy. :heart: :heart:
Jurina and Rena are now in a well-deserved stage of stability and happiness . Even their families already know about their relationship!!
I'm happy that Jurina could reconcile things with her mother and how the last keep in touch with Rena to know how her  clumsy daughter is doing tss... Jurina, be a good daughter and send messages to your mother !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

It is also good that they are enjoying a worthy trip with Mayu and Yuki. I have always found tender the friendship that both couples share. I think it will be a trip as fun as the previous trip to the beach.

I feel I must emphasize how well you describe the places. As a reader, such a detailed description makes me feel that I am with them while things happen. In this case I'm almost sure that the details you put in their flight number are real.
It is also to highlight the way in which you build your characters and have kept them consistent throughout the trilogy. A clear example is Yuki. I have always felt Yuki as a comical and light character and I know that when Yuki is on the scene there will be a situation that will make me laugh and this time it was the taxi. I can almost see her face of frustration!! :P :P

The scene where Jurina talks to the girl seemed like a scene full of wisdom XD Things are always seen better from the eyes of children. Yes, Jurina doesn't need a boyfriend because she has something much better: Rena!

I am very anxious to read how things develop on the trip. :twothumbs

P.S. Don't think I didn't realize your participation in the chapter XD
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 12:33:33 AM by facarous »

Offline Guacamoolee

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Hi, Author-san!!!!
Thank you for the update!! :heart:

I read this chapter super slow to enjoy every moment they cherish together as a couple. My favorite part in this chapter is when I finally found out that they already revealed their relationship nature to both of their parents. I'm so glad that they get the support they need from their beloved family. I almost shed tears. :farofflook:
And then... of course I love our little friend on the airport! We are all know that Jurina is not really good at game but nice try Jurina for trying to help your littlle friend. I wish Rena appeared and helped them! :P
I thought this chapter would be long. A little disappointment hit me when I read the infamous "to be continued" :sweatdrop:

See you on the final chapter!!!!

Offline ojuri 0513

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When I thought it will the last post then I see the infamous ''to be continued" :cry:. :yuki:
Don't worry author san I will waited patiently like always  :love:

Offline sophcaro

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    • sophcaro
Destiny chap40 part2 [WMatsui] - 22/05/2019
« Reply #738 on: May 22, 2019, 11:41:36 AM »

“First time in Paris?”

“Oh no, it’s my second time,” Rena, mustering her best English, replied to the male taxi driver. “But the first time was for work.”

“You’ll love it here,” the French taxi driver glanced back at her through the rearview car mirror. “Many, many monuments to see. Paris est une si belle ville! Beautiful Paris! Paris is a romantic city!”

“Yes,” Rena replied, entertained by the driver’s enthusiasm and his mixture of French and broken English. “I’m sure I’ll enjoy it here.”

“You will! Trust me!”

The taxi driver fell quiet, listening to the animated Sport talk show on radio. Rena observed the traffic outside the window. By the time their plane arrived at the French airport and they retrieved their suitcases, it was 6:30 p.m. when each couple hopped in a taxi. The airport crowded exit mingled with the peak time had led them straight into traffic, the slow progress of the car not failing to put Jurina asleep.

Fifteen minutes later, they managed to get out of the traffic jam, Rena amazed at the scenery unfolding in front of her as they drove through the center of Paris. Rena marveled at the view of the Arc de Triomphe, then the endless line of characteristic 19th century bourgeois apartments and buildings, until arriving at the Seine River as they crossed the Alma Bridge. For a while, the taxi drove along the river, the actress taking in the Iena Bridge on their right, until the view of the ‘Iron Lady,’ the emblematic Eiffel Tower on her left, made her understand that they were approaching their final destination.

A few times along the way, Rena couldn’t help thinking it was a real shame that Jurina was sleeping. She should be enjoying with her such a beautiful view. At some point, she had considered waking her up. In the end, Rena had refrained from doing it and let the younger girl continue her peaceful nap. They would have plenty opportunities to appreciate the city during their week holiday.

It was the second time Rena came to Paris, but she couldn’t say she had visited much of it. In 2009, she had been part of the trip with other AKB48 members when the idol group had been invited to perform in Paris at the Japan Expo, a French convention popular for celebrating Japanese’s culture, animation and music. It had been a short trip, most of the girls merely having the occasion to see the city, while dozing off from the long, tiring flight, through the window of a bus.

The least Rena could say, it’s that none of them truly had the chance to appreciate to its fullest the beauty and charms of the French capital. Despite the distant memory, Paris had left quite an impression on her, and Rena promised herself to return one day. To be perfectly sincere, this trip came at the right moment. These last years, she had been so swamped with work, that she never had been able to afford more than a couple of days off. For those holidays abroad, Rena had succeeded in clearing her schedule for a full week and was accompanied not simply by wonderful friends, but also the person she loved and shared her daily life. To add it up, those vacations were taking place just after Rena’s 30th birthday, making this trip to Paris all the more special to her.

While Rena and Yuki approached the hotel counter to check in, Jurina was desperately trying to stay awake. The long 12-hour flight, coupled with the jetlag, were getting the best of her, and she had to clench the handle of the suitcase to not collapse in the hallway. Blinking the sleep away for the umpteenth time, a flash of lucidity reminded her of an important task she was supposed to take care of, one she had utterly forgotten at their arrival at the French airport. Not wasting another minute, Jurina quickly retrieved her phone from her vest.

“Who are you texting?” Mayu, who was standing by her side, and passing time by playing a game on her phone, asked in confusion.

“My mom,” Jurina answered sleepily, gathering her last remnant of energy to concentrate on the content of the message. “To tell her that we’ve arrived.”

“At that time?” Mayu leaned closer, checking the text she was typing. “Wait. You actually are! You do realize it’s 3 a.m. in Japan?”

“Yes,” Jurina sighed, stealing a peek at their respective partners. They were still occupied with the receptionist, and she resumed her text. “If I don’t do it now, I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep and forget. She could have stayed awake to receive the confirmation that I arrived. I don’t want to take the risk of her texting Rena.”

“She would do that?” Mayu asked, astounded.

Jurina cringed. “Oh, she could.” She read the message, making sure it contained all the necessary information and was as coherent as possible, then pressed the button Send. “If you knew how many times she texted Rena these last months… you would be surprised.”

“Careful,” Mayu grinned. “Next thing you know, she will stop texting you and only go through Rena. I don’t blame her. Your girlfriend is obviously more reliable when it comes to getting info.”

Jurina glared at her. “Very funny.”

“You know it’s true,” Mayu quipped. “Last time you both came to our place for dinner, I had to text Rena to know when you would arrive. You had omitted to warn me that you had an interview in the evening.”

“Oh, that…” Jurina flushed. “But for my defense, this interview was a last-minute thing! It wasn’t planned. I meant to text you, but I got distracted and completely forgot.” Reflecting upon Mayu’s words, Jurina gazed at her in a mixture of worry and guilt. “I don’t do that often, do I? Forget, I mean.”

“No, you don’t,” Mayu replied impishly. “I just wanted to see your reaction.”

“Mayu,” Jurina growled. “How come you are so full of energy? I barely have the strength to stand up.”

“I slept on the plane,” Mayu explained. She frowned at the bags under Jurina’s eyes. “Why didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t find sleep, so I listened to music and watched movies,” Jurina confessed sheepishly.

“You were too excited,” Mayu stated matter-of-factly. “It’s fine. Tomorrow morning is program free.”

“Right…” Jurina murmured, relief sweeping through her at the reminder. “Don’t worry about me. I need one good night sleep, and I’ll be in top form.”

“I have no doubt,” Mayu said amusingly.

“We’ve got them!” The sight of Yuki waving the keycards in front of them brought both friends out of their discussion. “We’re all on the second floor. Let’s go to our rooms. God, I’m so exhausted. How did you manage to sleep so well on the plane?” Yuki asked Mayu, her expression changing to one of incredulity. “I don’t believe I have the strength to go out for dinner. What do you think if we order room service?”

“I don’t mind,” Mayu answered.

Rena, witnessing her girlfriend’s sleepiness, chimed in. “Yes. I think we’ll probably do the same.”

The four friends took the direction of the elevator, getting down at floor 2, splitting up in the corridor after agreeing to meet the next day for breakfast. From her peripheral vision, Jurina saw the other couple disappearing in room 26, before hearing the distinctive sound of the keycard opening the room she shared with Rena. She followed the older girl as she progressed inside room 22.

The decoration of the room stole Jurina’s breath away. From the wallpaper, to the curtains, cushions, bedside lamp and armchair, the room followed an impeccable pattern of red and black warm colors. Large paintings on the walls, representing popular views and monuments of Paris, and underlined by quotes from French writers, perfected the romantic atmosphere. But what caught the most Jurina’s attention, were the hundreds of red petals of rose spread all over the bed.

“Did you… Did you book a special room?” Jurina gasped.

“No, I didn’t,” Rena replied innocently. “But I have to admit it’s a very nice room. Don’t you think?”

“It’s not just nice,” Jurina corrected, sweeping around the place in amazement. “It’s… It’s so beautiful.”

Jurina left her suitcase aside and approached the king-size bed, her palm grazing over the soft, silky surface of the red colored bed scarf. She laid down on the bed, resting on the red square cushion, marveling at the sight of the bed of roses. Her fingers brushed the red petals, letting them slip through her fingers. She glanced back at Rena with awe. “I can’t believe we got such a beautiful room.”

“We are in Paris,” Rena came to lay by her side on the bed. She wrapped her arm around Jurina’s back, holding her snugly. “Maybe this hotel wants to live up to the city’s romantic image?”

“I guess,” Jurina murmured, her sleepy state of mind preventing her from elaborating any other possible explanation. “I’m not… I’m not really hungry.”

“I figured,” Rena’s tone was kind and understanding. “If you don’t want to eat, you should at least change clothes before going to sleep.”

Jurina didn’t reply, losing herself in the lulling sensation of Rena’s hand stroking the length of her back. Jurina closed the distance between them, Rena meeting her halfway as their lips connected in a short kiss. Jurina studied her, warmth in her eyes, fighting hard to stay conscious. Against her will, Rena’s image slowly blurred, Jurina’s heavy pupils closing without her consent as her body surrendered to exhaustion.

When Jurina woke up, the first thing she noticed was the bright, sunny light filtering underneath the double curtains, clear indication that the morning was well-advanced. Relieved to feel quite rested, she took pleasure in watching her girlfriend’s peacefully sleeping form, before stiffening when she discovered what she was wearing. Why was she in her daily clothes? Jurina searched her mind for an explanation, retracing the events of the previous evening. She remembered entering the hotel room and laying down on the comfy bed but the rest was a complete blur. Confused by the gaps in her memory, Jurina turned to the side when she felt the body next to her stirring up.

“Morning…” Rena whispered; she planted a gentle kiss on Jurina’s forehead. “Did you sleep well?”

Jurina lit up at the affectionate gesture, completing the morning routine by lacing their hands together. Jurina’s attention fell upon her own ring finger, the silver band another reminder that something had definitely gone wrong the previous night. “I did,” she replied, gazing back and forth questioningly between her own appearance and her slowly awakening girlfriend. “What happened? Why did I… Why did you let me go to sleep like this?”

“I see someone has a bad recollection of yesterday,” Rena said with a slight giggle. “I suggested you to change into your pajamas, but you didn’t listen. You fell asleep soon after your head touched the pillow.”

“Really?” Jurina blinked, destabilized that she couldn’t remember any of it. “I guess… I guess I was exhausted.”

“Yes, you were.” A flicker of amusement crossed Rena’s features. “Let’s not mention how complicated it was to get you out of the taxi without you stumbling, or the fact that you confused our suitcases and entered the hotel with mine.”

Jurina was stunned by the revelation. “No, I didn’t… I didn’t do that.”

“You did,” Rena laughed. “So, now that you’re fully rested…” She stroked Jurina’s face, tracing her cheekbones, and gently kissed her on the cheek. “Are you ready to start our visit of Paris?”

“Isn’t this morning supposed to be program free?” Jurina asked for confirmation, receiving a nod in reply. “We can join Mayu and Yuki for breakfast, then decide what to do? But first, I need a shower. I can’t believe I fell asleep fully-clothed. I don’t even remember the last time that happened.”

“And I couldn’t do anything about it,” Rena added jokingly, watching her troubled girlfriend getting out of bed and approaching her suitcase. “You were sleeping like a log.”

Jurina, who was working on the lock combination, felt the color in her cheeks rising at the embarrassing reminder. “Dammit…” she muttered to herself after a second failed attempt. “W-What’s my code again?”

Rena was ready to laugh, but smiled widely instead. “8 0 3. If I remember correctly, it has never changed in 10 years.”

“Thanks,” Jurina said gratefully, despite being conscious of the blatant teasing she was being subjected to. Without further delay, she opened her suitcase and grabbed a pair of flesh clothes. “I’m going to take a shower. I won’t be long.”

Jurina vanished inside the bathroom and Rena slowly straightened up in bed, allowing herself to relax. In the background, water was falling in the shower, and Rena took time to appreciate the warm red and black colors of the hotel room decoration, reminding her that they definitely were in the city of love and romance. Her gaze fell upon the rose petals spread all over the bedsheet, amused by Jurina’s reaction the previous evening. She glanced around the place, lingering on the French quote underlining a painting of Montmartre.

La vie c’est des étapes… La plus douce c’est l’amour… La plus dure c’est la séparation… La plus pénible c’est les adieux… La plus belle c’est les retrouvailles.

Rena read it carefully, using her French lessons and vocabulary knowledge of the foreign language to decipher it. Unfortunately, she didn’t have the opportunity to decrypt its meaning to its fullest that she got distracted by the bathroom door opening, witnessing in mild-amusement a Jurina clad in her underwear rummaging frenetically through her suitcase. Most visibly, someone was not satisfied with the clothes she had previously chosen.

As their gazes suddenly met across the room, the corners of Jurina’s mouth turned up into a mischievous expression. “What are you staring at?”

“The girl walking half-naked in my hotel room,” Rena shot back playfully.

“Your hotel room?”

“Yes, mine,” Rena answered, in a fake shocked tone. “I booked it. Please don’t tell me you forgot about that too.”

Jurina, her previous goal all forgotten, left her suitcase aside and got up on her feet, progressing towards the bed. When Rena laid down from her previous seated position, Jurina understood the message conveyed and didn’t hesitate to climb on top of her. “I’m not so sure I should get dressed now,” Jurina claimed her lips in a slow, lingering kiss, pretending to think. “Do you think I need to?”

“Well…” Rena’s fingers ran up Jurina’s sides, stopping under the swell of her breasts and the fabric of her bra, then sliding down her heaving ribs and over her belly. “Eventually, you will need to get dressed if you want to go outside. But that depends entirely on you. I don’t know what you had in mind for this morning.”

Jurina studied her with a mixture of love and fascination, not missing the seductive glint in the depth of Rena’s dark brown orbs. Jurina was spellbound by her eyes, ensnared in her gaze, and her mouth swooped down to capture hers once more. The kiss was passionate and hungry, filled with all the feelings for her coursing through her veins. As it was returned with equal want and passion, Jurina felt a rush of warm emotion, Rena’s dexterous fingers traveling around to her back and prompt to unhook her bra.

Yuki was humming a cheery melody as she turned at the corner of the corridor, Mayu’s steps following closely behind as they approached room 22. This morning, Yuki was in a wonderful mood. Not only had she recovered from her lack of sleep, she was impatient to start their visit of the French capital. The last time she had visited the city of love was four years ago and she always hoped to come back, this time not for work purposes but for pleasure.

“I’ll see if they are up,” Yuki said, getting a brief nod from Mayu who was busy checking her phone. Yuki halted in front of the hotel door and raised her arm, stopping in mid-air when she perceived explicit noises coming from the other side. “M-Maybe…” She froze, and had to stop and work out her words. “Maybe we should go to breakfast without them.”

Mayu raised from the screen. “What? Why? Yesterday, we all agreed to meet for breakfast, remember?”

“I-I do,” Yuki spoke lamely. “This morning is supposed to be program free, right?” She added with an attempt at lightness. “So, why don’t we let them enjoy their morning as they wish? We’ll meet them later.”

“You’re not making any sense,” Mayu said with a frown. “It’s past 9 a.m. Maybe they forgot to check the time, or didn’t hear their alarm-clock.”

When Mayu took a decided step forward to knock, Yuki grabbed her arm urgently. “No, Mayuyu, we really shouldn’t interrupt.”

“Interrupt what?” A pregnant silence stretched out between them. When Mayu caught the sounds coming from inside the room, her mouth twitched with amusement. “Oh, I see. Yes, it’s best to go downstairs. They’ll join us later. Maybe.”

“Yes. Maybe,” Yuki said awkwardly.

Turning on their heels, they walked towards the elevator, Mayu taking the initiative to press the button to call it when the girl by her side seemed completely lost in her thoughts. “I can’t blame them. It’s Paris. They got affected by the romantic atmosphere and couldn’t help themselves.”

Yuki stared back at her in bafflement. “On the first day?!”

“Why not?” Mayu shrugged. “Anyway. What did you have in mind for this morning? We’re supposed to visit the Eiffel Tower, no?”

“Y-Yes,” Yuki cleared her throat, trying to recollect herself. “I mean, I don’t remember our program. We were supposed to visit The Eiffel Tower this morning? Are you sure? Or was it tomorrow?”

Surprise, then disbelief, crossed Mayu’s features. “It’s been a while I’ve seen my Yukirin so flustered.”

“Of course, I am!” Yuki exclaimed dramatically. “It’s our friends we’re talking about! It was way too embarrassing to hear… that!”

The elevator opened and they entered. “But why? What do you think they usually do in bed?” Mayu asked cheekily. “Play chess? Conjugate Latin verbs?”

“Mayuyu! Will you stop it?!” Yuki groaned, burying her face in her hands. “I had finally managed to erase the image from my mind, and you had to put it back!”

Mayu’s lips quirked in a twisted smile. “You haven’t answered my questi-”

“That’s enough,” Yuki glared at her, slapping her arm. “Promise me we’ll never talk about that anymore. Promise me!”

“Fine, fine,” Mayu stifled a laugh. When she noted Yuki’s disapprobation, she quickly pecked her cheek. “I promise. I won’t mention it.”

Yuki breathed a sigh of relief, failing to catch the lie hidden behind Mayu’s mask of innocence and the fingers crossed behind her back.

Buffet was closed when Jurina and Rena considered their morning program, deciding it was a shame to order room service when the city had plenty to offer. After a short stroll in the neighborhood of their hotel, they stopped in front of the characteristic red storefront of a French Café, and settled down at the terrace. They didn’t have to wait long to be served, a hearty breakfast composed of croissants, buttered toasts, jam, fresh orange juice, and café crème soon being placed between them.

Jurina took in every single detail surrounding her, from listening to the locals speaking the language of Molière, to the black vests and long white aprons worn by the male waiters serving them, without forgetting the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower. Being her first time in Paris, it was too easy to fall prey to the irresistibly charming romantic atmosphere. Her observation seemed to reach no end, until her gaze landed at last on the quiet older girl sitting opposite her.

“How do you like Paris so far?” Rena took a sip of her cup of coffee, the fresh brew delighting her nostrils with the mocha aroma.

“It’s…” Jurina sighed dreamily, relaxing back in her chair. “It’s beautiful. What about you? Is Paris faithful to the memory you had of it?”

Rena settled down her drink on the small round table separating them, pondering over her question. “It’s hard to say. I was 17 when I came to Paris for the first time. My main concern was to not mess up the choreography, and remember the lyrics of the songs I had to perform, especially in French. I was so stressed and sleep-deprived, that the rest of the trip is a blur. We barely had any free time to visit the city, and I was too exhausted to remember much of it anyway.”

“You had to sing in French?!” Jurina gasped in shock.

“Yes, when I did a duet with Kasai Tomomi,” Rena laughed, reminiscently. “You should have seen her: she exulted such confidence on stage. Me? I was a bundle of nerves. I didn’t understand a single word I was saying; I had to learn everything phonetically. I rehearsed the song countless of times the previous evening in my hotel room, and even again before the performance. I did my best, but I’m not convinced the audience managed to understand my terrible pronunciation.”

“Your pronunciation sounded very good to me when you spoke to the waiter,” Jurina said confidently. “I would be incapable of saying more than a few words.”

“I should lend you some of my books then, if you’re interested in learning new languages,” Rena offered. “After all, I know you’ve always been fascinated by Le Petit Prince. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the way you stare at me each time I’m reading it.”

“Rena…” Jurina chuckled softly at her girlfriend’s teasing tone. Rena’s almost obsessive passion for this particular story was one she still couldn’t fully comprehend. How many times had she discovered the book slipped in the actress’ suitcase, or witnessed her girlfriend reading it for the umpteenth time before going to bed? Too many to count, assuredly. “I don’t think it’s wise of me to learn another language when I already struggle with English. Besides, I know the essential when it comes to French.”

“You do?” Rena’s brow furrowed. “Like what?”

Bonjour, ça va, pain, au revoir, and of course, last but not the least,” Jurina’s voice took on a sensuous undertone as she slid her hand across the table, catching Rena’s inside hers. “Je t’aime.”

Rena suppressed a laugh at Jurina’s cheesiness. “Yes, you know the essential. What else could you possibly need to learn?”

The moment was broken by the sound of Rena’s phone beeping. “It’s a text from Yuki. They reached the top of the Eiffel Tower. She sent a picture. She says the view is beautiful.”

“Oh, they went to visit it this morning? I can’t wait to visit it too,” Jurina said enthusiastically, checking the attached picture Rena was showing her. “When are we visiting it?”

“On the last day,” Rena replied without the slight hesitation. “I thought it would be a great idea to finish our vacations with Paris’s most emblematic monument.”

Jurina was caught off guard by the sudden glint in Rena’s eyes. It reminded her of a similar reaction her girlfriend had harbored at Haneda Airport. Rena had been the one to plan their holidays up to the finest detail, a task Jurina had been happy to let her take care of when she had witnessed the determination and pleasure Rena was having in taking matters in hand. Jurina couldn’t shake off the feeling that her girlfriend seemed to have a hidden agenda, but she chose not to interrogate her. Nevermind what it might be, she trusted her to have elaborated the best program to make their vacations to the city of love as memorable as possible.

Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the most emblematic monuments of Paris, had suffered from a dreadful fire. In April 2019, Rena had been shocked by the devastating news, one that hadn’t failed to make the world news headlines. The wave of solidarity following the incident had been impressive: in barely three days, 1 billion euros of donations managed to be raised. The emotional response to the tragedy had transcended borders, languages and cultures, and donations to help support the reconstruction had poured from all around the globe.

During nine long hours, the flames had threatened to destroy and burn down Notre-Dame to ashes. It was past 8 p.m. when the relentless fight of the 400 firefighters had paid off, and they succeeded in putting a definitive end to the fire. When all prognostics imagined the worst outcome, Notre-Dame had survived. Its foundations had remained intact, proving its remarkable solidity. The cathedral, admired by 14 million of visitors every year, and fruit of the technical feat of past architects and builders, had been designed to cross time. 

As she and Jurina were walking through the parvis of the Cathedral, it was inconceivable not to pause. From the doors closed to the public during the reconstruction period, to the workers repairing stone by stone what had been lost in the fire, it was too soon to oversee what the final cathedral would look like. Its construction had begun in the 12s century and overgone through many phases of restoration over time, especially in the 19s century when it took its final radiant Gothic form.

From aside, Rena observed Jurina’s sadness. She squeezed her hand in comfort, Jurina leaning upon her shoulder in return. Under such circumstances, no words needed to be exchanged to realize that they were both equally moved by the devastating sight. Just as them, dozens of bystanders, locals and tourists, were stopping by and observing the damage done to the majestic monument.

During the course of the 21s century, the cathedral would be going through another major phase of restoration: it would need a few more years to reopen and regain its splendor. That day of April 15, Notre-Dame had been severely hit, but had not fallen. Nevermind how long it would take, Rena had no doubt it would be contemplated and praised once more for its powerful symbol and architectural magnificence.

The sun was high in the sky when Jurina and Rena walked amongst the secondhand booksellers of the quays of the Seine, pausing every now and then to check the numerous book stalls. The Bouquinistes of Paris, booksellers of used and antiquarians’ books, was an obliged passage for any first visitor. It was a national treasure and a worldwide renown institution, one that lead millions of tourists every year to stop by and take a stroll, from the Quai de la Tournelle to Quai Voltaire on the left bank, to Pont Marie to Quai du Louvre on the right side.

At the invitation of a bookseller, Rena took a step forward, her fascination for old books having never wavered over the years. It was one of the ambivalences that existed within her: much as she enjoyed the modern technology of Tokyo, there was nothing like smelling and turning the pages of an old book. As anticipated, most of them were written in French and Rena had no difficulty recognizing illustrious authors, from Victor Hugo and Maupassant, to Alexandre Dumas and Baudelaire.

By her side, Jurina was admiring a series of postcards and drawings, depicting notorious places and monuments of the capital, as well as more simple scenes of everyday life in the 19th century. It was a return to the past, the cobblestone streets, horse carriages, and steam-engine testimony of what Paris had once looked like. It represented an age that didn’t exist anymore, but could still be witnessed in the old and preserved districts of the city.

While Jurina addressed the French bookseller in a tentative English, and bought a couples of posters and pictures to her liking, Rena opted for an old edition of Zola’s Germinal and one of The Petit Prince that she didn’t have in her collection: a purchase she was certain Jurina wouldn’t fail to tease her about later on. Following that, they continued their walk to cross Pont Marie, pausing over the bridge to observe the endless passage of boats on the Seine. Rena didn’t know how long they remained standing there, relishing in the sight and relaxing atmosphere enveloping them, until she got distracted by the feeling of Jurina gently tugging at her hand.

Rena glanced back at her in curiosity, following her when Jurina lead them further across the bridge, until they stopped in front of an impressive display of locks. A young couple was standing in front of them, hanging a lock with their names written on it, and exchanging words of affection. Once they departed, Jurina slipped away from Rena’s grasp to open her own backpack, a small orange heart-shaped lock appearing inside her palm.

Rena’s mouth dropped. “A lock? When did you buy it?”

“In Tokyo, before leaving,” Jurina brightened with pride. “When I learned about this tradition of love bridges, there was no way I couldn’t do it.”

Following her own words, Jurina didn’t hesitate to step forward and, searching for an adequate place, carefully attached the lock to the grid. The flashy orange color made it stand out amongst the hundreds of other lovers’ locks. Rena studied the lock more closely, noticing that their names had been personally handwritten by Jurina, along with the cute drawing of a heart.

“I don’t… I don’t remember seeing you putting it in your suitcase,” Rena, warmth spreading through her chest, laced their fingers together when the younger girl came back to stand by her side.

“Of course, you didn’t,” Jurina replied with playful assurance. “I didn’t want the surprise to be ruined, so I made sure you weren’t looking.”

Rena laughed at Jurina’s sneaky action. For a while, they quietly remained standing in front of the impressive display of locks, lost in the romantic atmosphere created by the place. “It’s really beautiful,” Rena murmured, and couldn’t resist the urge to kiss her cheek. “There’s no rush, but when you’re ready, we can progress onto our next activity.”

Jurina let out a blissful sigh. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”

Following a short pleasant walk under the sun along the river bank, they waited in line for their turn to get aboard the pleasure boat. Rena prepared their booked tickets, listening as her girlfriend showed great eagerness for the upcoming excursion on the Seine. After taking their seats and putting on their audio guides, Rena couldn’t help but reflect once more upon Jurina’s last touching romantic gesture, knowing that the city of love was about to reserve them many more surprises.

It was past 4 p.m. when they returned to their hotel, Jurina thankful that today had been program free. Even though she had recovered from her lack of sleep, there was no denying that she remained partly jetlag from the important time difference. Their last activity for the day, a cruise on an open excursion boat that had provided them with a view of the city and emblematic monuments of Paris from along the river Seine, had been absolutely enjoyable.

Jurina was the one to pass the doorstep of the hotel room first, her feet soon halting on the carpet when she stared at their made-up bed: a red square box, along with a white envelope, had been carefully disposed on the red colored bed scarf. Dropping her backpack on the floor, curiosity got the best of her and she reduced the distance, pleasantly surprised when she opened the letter and discovered a message wishing them a nice stay in Paris, entirely written in Japanese by the hotel staff.

“Rena, look,” Jurina took a seat on the bed, studying the red square box at the effigy of Pierre Hermé. “The hotel prepared again something for us.”

“Oh, you’re right.” Rena came to sit by her side, reading the letter she was handing her. She drew her attention to the unopened box decorated with a yellow ribbon. “That’s really nice of them. Why don’t you open it?”

Jurina didn’t need to be asked twice and proceeded, discovering 12 round biscuits neatly disposed inside the box. “Macaroons,” she murmured in awe.

“It looks like an assortment of fruits rouges. Why don’t you taste one?” Rena said encouragingly. 

“I really want to, but…” Jurina hesitated. “But it’s already late. Maybe it’s best to wait after dinner.”

“It’s alright, dinner with Mayu and Yuki isn’t until 8,” Rena replied, reassuring her. When the girl opposite her seemed still caught in a dilemma, Rena removed one macaroon from the box and brought it to Jurina’s mouth. “Come on, you know you want it.”

Jurina couldn’t resist the temptation and welcomed the French patisserie, relishing the sweet strawberry taste lingering on her tongue.   

So, how is it?” Rena asked.

Jurina beamed. “Delicious. You should try one.”

“I’m not very hungry, but go on,” Rena politely declined.

“What are you saying?” Jurina shook her head in protest. “I can taste them, but you won’t? Absolutely not.”

Jurina took out a macaroon from the box and, mimicking Rena’s previous action, held it up in front of her. Rena didn’t try to resist, surrendering to her girlfriend’s stubbornness. She appreciated the sweet and delicate raspberry taste, meeting Jurina’s expectant look. “Yes, it’s delicious. You want another one?”

“You shouldn’t tempt me,” Jurina whispered, chastising herself when her tone sounded far less reproachful than intended. Her gaze dropped to the box with uncertainty, itching to taste another macaroon. When she raised her eyes to meet Rena’s, she felt herself shiver. There was now a perceptible difference in Rena’s expression: she harbored a smile no longer sweet, but suggestive.

“Why not?” Rena fetched a third macaroon from the box and approached the biscuit to Jurina’s mouth, only to stop a few inches away. “What’s wrong with a little… temptation?”

Jurina’s heart skipped a beat, and she opened her mouth. While she slowly ate the macaroon, Rena appeared satisfied, her thumb grazing her lower lip again and again, then sliding to her chin as her eyes danced with wicked lust and amusement. Jurina’s stare latched onto her sensuous lips, swallowing hard, not hesitating any longer to succumb to the provocation and greedily seize Rena’s mouth with her own.

Disneyland. If there was one place on earth that always succeeded in bringing out so effortlessly Rena’s childish side, it certainly was the Disney park. Of course, it was beyond question that a visit of Paris wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Rena’s all-time favorite park. The latter had even made sure all four of them didn’t leave the hotel too late to make it right on time for the opening.

It was impossible to miss the way Rena glowed as a child entering a candy store. They walked down the main street, the Sleeping Beauty Castle appearing in the background as they discovered the French version of the theme park. Jurina couldn’t count the number of times Rena had been to the park in Tokyo, mostly with Airi, also managing to drag her along on a couple of occasions. Nevermind the fact Rena knew each and every attraction by heart, her enjoyment never seemed to cease.

It was an unexpected yet fascinating sight to observe the usually so composed and eloquent 30-year-old actress turn into a kid, her persona changing drastically as if a switch had been turned on. Jurina never was as fond of the park as her girlfriend - or of any entertainment park in general - yet she was convinced a great time awaited the four of them on this sunny, beautiful day of August.

They spent the morning going through Adventureland, admiring the sets of the Pirate Galleon and Pirate’s Beach. They explored the mysterious land of Adventure Isle and the Pirates of Caribbean attraction. Their image was immortalized on picture, giving free rein to their imagination and making goofy poses in front of the camera with the notorious characters of the iconic movie.

The morning was well-advanced when Rena decided to raise the stakes by progressing down Frontierland and queuing up at the Big Thunder Mountain. Jurina didn’t see the immediate danger, the morning having been anything but entertaining. Little did she know that she was about to regret her recklessness. Thirty minutes later, when they exited the train and went to check their pictures on the screens, Jurina’s heart was beating wildly, having not entirely recovered from the ride.

The three other girls were delighted about the experience, sharing between them their favorite moments. Jurina could not quite say the same. With the train rattling around the haunting mountain at high speed, or the moments they happened to be in the complete dark, she had been pushed to her limits. Since she was a child, Jurina had never been comfortable with two things: heights and big thrills. With that last attraction, that she naively believed inoffensive, she could tell she had reached her quota of big thrills for the day.

Or for the year.

When Yuki suggested to join the line for the Indiana Jones Temple of Peril, Jurina shuddered at the idea. Today, for some strange reason, Yuki appeared to be on the same page as Rena when it came to the concept of fun. Jurina didn’t need to be given more information to realize that her poor fragile heart wouldn’t handle this next attraction. The title said enough on the terrifying experience that awaited her.

“Great idea!” Jurina heard Rena approving all too easily Yuki’s suggestion. They began making their way towards the designated attraction, Rena leading the group after checking the location and direction on the phone app. “There’s also the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and the Phantom Manor I really can’t wait to do.” The high pitch in Rena’s voice betrayed her enthusiasm.

“That sounds… scary,” Yuki winced.

A wave of relief swept through Jurina’s chest: at last, someone was voicing out loud her précised concerns. 

A short moment of silence followed suit, until Yuki exclaimed. “Count me in! I don’t care! I’m up for the challenge!”

Jurina blanched at Yuki’s radical change of heart.

Undoubtedly, she was pleased that Yuki and Rena got along, and they had developed a closer friendship over the past eight months. However, she wasn’t particularly at ease with this new diabolic alliance. Giving a quick side glance to Mayu, she secretly prayed for support, only to notice in dismay the latter nodding in approval to the suggestion. In a split second, Jurina’s apprehension grew a notch: she was outnumbered.

Jurina followed the three girls in silence, repeating to herself again and again that she was 24 years old and it was time to stop being so afraid. She wasn’t a kid anymore. If others could do it, why couldn’t she? As they approached their final destination, the view of the infamous attraction coupled with the screams reaching her, ended up getting the best of her resolve. Her steps slowed down, almost as if she was unconsciously trying to delay the inevitable.

An action that caught Rena’s attention. “I’m so sorry. I completely forgot,” Rena murmured apologetically. “Let’s skip it. We’ll do another one.”

“N-No, I’m fine,” Jurina protested, putting up a brave front. “It’s probably not as frightening as it sounds. I’m not afraid. I’ll do it.”

“Are you sure?” Rena asked skeptically. “Be honest with me. You don’t have to force yourself for my sake.”

Jurina’s chest warmed up. She could tell her girlfriend truly meant every word, and she wouldn’t hold it against her if they changed their plans. Nevertheless, a part of her refused to deprive her of a fun day only because she had always been a scary cat.

“I’ll do another attraction with Jurina while you both do that one,” Mayu chimed in the conversation. “We’ll meet after you finished.”

Jurina found herself speechless. “Wait, no, you don’t have to do that. I can really… I can really do it.”

“It’s a great idea,” Rena agreed. “No one said we all had to do the same attractions.”

Jurina opened her mouth to retort, but stopped when Rena gently pressed her lips to her cheek. “Enjoy yourself with Mayu. We’ll meet later for lunch.”

“What about Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery?” Mayu suggested, when both Rena and Yuki turned on their heels. “It sounds fun, and it’s a 5 min walk from here.”

Jurina glanced back hesitantly in the direction of Yuki and Rena, as they disappeared in the dense crowd. “Mayu… You really didn’t want to go with them?”

“To Indiana Jones Temple of Peril? No, I don’t care that much about that one,” Mayu replied nonchalantly. “Besides, this shooting one seems much more fun. Wanna bet on who’s going to hit more targets?”

Jurina’s ears perked: she could recognize a challenge when she saw one. “What? Don’t be so sure of yourself. I progressed a lot lately at shooting games! Remember last time we went to the arcades in Shibuya?”

“Yes, I do. And you lost,” Mayu smirked. “But you’re right.” She patted Jurina’s arm. “It’s always good to have faith.”

Jurina groaned at her friend’s overflowing confidence. Their previous conversation falling at the back of her mind, she followed her, determined to wipe off that silly smug expression of hers.

It was past 1 p.m. when they checked the restaurants and settled down at Colonel Hathi’s Pizza Outpost. Sending a quick text to Rena to inform her of their choice of restaurant, Jurina went through the menu full of Italian specialties, making up her mind on the Neapolitan Rigatoni Pasta. While waiting for their respective partners to arrive, the scorching sun had led them to order cold drinks, Jurina appreciating the sensation of the fresh citronade easing her dry throat. Jurina observed Mayu who was enjoying her Coca Cola, trying hard not to be affected by her self-satisfied expression.

Alright, Mayu had managed to beat her, but there was nothing to gloat about: it was solely by a small margin!

“Stop it,” Jurina grumbled.

“What? I didn’t do anything,” Mayu, sipping her soda through the straw, very innocently answered.

Jurina squinted at her, before noticing the last empty seats of the restaurant being taken by a family. Taking another good sip of her citronade, she watched the impressive crowd of visitors roaming through the park. If there’s something that this morning had taught her, it was that the French park was as popular as its Japanese version. Less than 10 minutes went by, until Rena and Yuki joined them at their table.

“So how was it?” Jurina asked. “Did you enjoy it?”

“I did!” Rena stated, with barely contained enthusiasm. “It’s a shame we don’t have that attraction in Tokyo. The level of thrills is unique.”

By Yuki’s small grimace, it wasn’t hard to guess that someone else had been excessively adventurous, and was regretting taking up Rena’s challenge.

Rena’s anticipated meeting with Mickey and Minnie was a moment not to miss as the group ventured in Fantasyland. Considering the countless pictures Rena had taken with her Disney idols during the day, Jurina was positively certain her girlfriend would easily find a place to expose a couple of them at their apartment. The nearby souvenir shop seemed an obligatory stop, Jurina realizing Rena had something on her mind when she exited the shop and decidedly walked towards her.

From her shopping bag, Rena retrieved two pairs of Mickey Mouse ears, not hesitating in placing a pair on her head. Rena’s intentions were more than obvious when she stared at her maliciously, Rena positioning the second on hers with a barely dissimulated enthusiasm. Her girlfriend was ready to immortalize the glorious moment with a selfie, when they were interrupted by a French girl in her thirties with shoulder length brown hair. The latter kindly offered to take the picture, to which Rena accepted gratefully, pulling Jurina closer to take the pause in front of the camera.

The rest of the day went by in the speed of light, as they continued their thorough exploration of the park. They enjoyed popular attractions, Alice’s Curious Labyrinth, Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, without forgetting of course Rena’s all-time favorite, the eternally enchanting It’s a small world. Those were attractions initially designed for little ones but that still managed to appeal to adults, awakening the child within each visitor.

At 5 p.m., they lined in the main street for the daily Disney Stars on Parade. If there’s one thing Jurina couldn’t deny as she observed the delight of the crowd following the colorful parade, it was that the entertainment park appealed to everyone. From kids and adults, to couples, families and friends, each fringe of the population was represented. Beside her, Rena’s eyes sparkled with undeniable happiness, and Jurina felt herself falling for her each day even more.

The following days were spent enjoying the cultural delights of the French capital. In group or by pairs, depending on their convergence of interests, they visited Orsay and the Louvre, a must-see in the cultural world. They took a stroll through the streets of emblematic districts, such as Pigalle, historical district of musical scene famous for Moulin Rouge, or the Latin Quarter, with its Pantheon, National Museum of Natural History and the garden of plants, without forgetting the worldwide renown university of the Sorbonne.

Every evening, when Jurina would go back to her hotel for a well needed rest after a tiring yet enriching day, one constant never changed. On top of their bed, she would discover a gift from the hotel. Each time different and carefully presented, Jurina’s astonishment never ceased when she opened the present, making a mental note to thank the staff for their consideration.

On this particular day, they had all reunited for a full day of shopping on the most popular avenue in the world: The Champs Elysées. After making a long stop at the Galeries Lafayette, and leaving with their arms full of plastic bags, their entered a few others clothing and shoe stores, Jurina not bothering to hide her amusement when Rena found two more pairs of Adidas that she visibly didn’t have in her collection.

The afternoon was well advanced when they entered an entirely different store, dedicated to the sale of media products. On four spacious floors, you could practically find everything, from books and videogames, to CDs and DVDs.

“There are so many…” Mayu stood on the spot, staring in awe at the endless line of shelves under the Mangas section. Rapidly, her feet moved forward and she grabbed the first manga within reach, turning the pages, replacing it back on the shelf and seizing a second with eagerness.

“All in French,” Jurina, checking a manga, specified, her observation not appearing to diminish Mayu’s enthusiasm for all that.

Jurina studied her in bewilderment, her best friend not paying the slightest care in what she was saying and going through each and every shelf conscientiously. Mayu didn’t understand French any more than her but her undivided passion for mangas had taken the upper hand, shutting down any common sense. Earlier too, when they had wandered around the game section, Mayu had monopolized the area for 30 min straight, nevermind if none of the games were compatible with Japanese consoles.

Jurina had a good feeling their exploration of this new section was going to take a while. As a new shelf, full of figurines on sale, had now piqued Mayu’s interest, Jurina briefly averted her gaze and swept over the floor, in search of their two others companions. Much in vain, as she had long ago lost sight of Rena and Yuki when the group decided to split up on the second floor of the store.

“I know I already said it but,” Jurina spoke up, reflecting upon the realization that more than half of their week holiday had passed in the blink of an eye. “I’m so happy we were able to go on holidays all four together. I had missed it.”

The statement prompted Mayu to lower the figurine in her hands. “Me too,” She replied sincerely. “And yes, the timing was perfect. In September, Yuki is touring to promote her new album, and I’ll be busy shooting a movie. And you and Rena are playing in a drama together. It was now or never.”

Jurina lit up at the latest mention. “You can’t imagine how long I dreamed of such an opportunity. When we both got offered a role in the same drama, there was no way I could refuse. I was afraid it might be in conflict with Rena’s busy schedule, but when she told me she didn’t have anything planned, I was so, so happy.”

“I can almost imagine the fireworks in your head,” Mayu joked, then added. “Isn’t it her third TV show set in Feudal Japan, though? Isn’t she tired of doing period dramas?”

“Yes, but this time, we’re shooting it together,” Jurina raised an eyebrow challengingly. “Are you suggesting that she could get bored with me?”

“Oh right. Stupid question,” Mayu chuckled, acknowledging her mistake. If there’s one quality Mayu could grant her best friend, it was that Jurina always succeeded in making everyday life the opposite of dull and monotonous.

On the other side of the floor, Yuki was venturing in the CD section. The number of shelves was imposing, all diligently divided in specific categories: French songs, R&B, pop, jazz, but also classical music, world music and soundtracks. The store also offered the possibility to listen to the recently released albums. Checking some artists, Yuki felt deterred by the realization that she didn’t know half of them.

“Either I have terrible taste in music, either we don’t listen to the same thing,” Yuki voiced out loud her concern. “The choice is impressive and diversified, but I don’t even know most of those artists. I don’t think I’ve even seen a single Japanese or Korean artist. Have you?!”

“No, I haven’t,” Rena, who was flipping over the CD of Mylene Farmer’s latest album, the French artist currently n°1 in the charts, concurred by her side. “I don’t think it has anything to do with having good or bad taste. It’s only that people in France don’t listen to the same music style as us.”

“Thank God,” Yuki breathed a heavy sigh of relief. “I was getting paranoid and beginning to question my taste in music.”

Rena chuckled in response.

They resumed their exploration, listening now and then to a few CDs, Yuki catching Rena peeking more and more frequently at her yellow gold wedding band. These last couple of months, it wasn’t the first time she had caught her friend in the act. She hadn’t thought too much about it, passing it as simple admiration for the jewelry. Nonetheless, she couldn’t ignore that Rena’s interest in her ring had been more insistent since their arrival in the French capital. 

Yuki pressed the button Stop of the CD she was listening, and removed the headphones. “Did I ever tell you how Mayu proposed?”

The question caught her female companion off guard, Rena replacing on the shelf the CD she was studying. “No. No, you didn’t.”

“One evening, Mayuyu invited me to the movies,” Yuki began reminiscently. “We had both been so swamped with work, that I believed it was only her being kind and thoughtful. Later on, we had a pleasant dinner at a romantic Italian restaurant, before Mayu asked if it was okay if we made a stop at the arcades. When she placed in my hands all the prices she had won, and let me finish first at every other game, I could sense something was off. When does Mayuyu let anyone beat her?”

Rena bit her lip to suppress a smile.

“I held my tongue, believing I was imagining things and she was probably in a bad day. After that, we went to buy an ice cream crepe,” Yuki continued, lowering her voice mysteriously. “We were walking back to the train station, enjoying our desserts, when she popped up the question out of nowhere! I was so shocked, that I almost dropped everything I was holding right in the middle of the street.”

Rena laughed heartily. “I see. But you still said yes.”

“I couldn’t say no to my Mayuyu,” Yuki sighed happily. “Besides, she made it up for her clumsy proposal by booking this wonderful weekend in Hawaii for our honeymoon. You should have seen our room. We had a lovely view on the sea, and the beach was only 5 min away by foot. And the jacuzzi. Don’t let me start on the jacuzzi.”

Rena grinned sweetly in response. “You two make a beautiful couple.”

“Thank you,” Yuki’s cheeks turned pink at the compliment. “It was a small, private wedding with only our families and closest friends, but it will always be the best day of my life. I’m so glad that both you and Jurina were able to come.”

“I couldn’t not be present for such an important event,” Rena shook her head softly. “Do you think you’ll ever make the news of your union public? Or you prefer that it remains private?”

“Mayuyu and I discussed it for a while before making a decision. Our families and friends know the truth; it’s all that matters to us. We’re happy as things are for now,” Yuki replied confidently.

Yuki took in Rena’s pensiveness, dying to broach a particular subject with her. She opened her mouth a few times to speak, before stopping herself. These past eight months, she and Rena had grown closer than ever. However, there was no denying that her friend had always been a rather private person. In all good conscience, she couldn’t take the risk of putting her ill-at-ease only to satisfy her overriding curiosity.

When the group met up outside the store, Jurina was unsettled to see her girlfriend missing by Yuki’s side. “Rena is not with you?”

“No, she said she needed to make a stop at another shop,” Yuki replied, wincing in unease at the view of the large boxes in Mayu’s plastic shopping bags. “Don’t tell me… you found more figurines?”

“Yes, and I already know where I’m going to put them,” Mayu answered proudly.

“Another shop? Did she say which one?” Jurina was genuinely puzzled.

“She didn’t,” Yuki conceded, then added in a gentle tone. “But she asked me to tell you not to worry, and she’ll meet you later on at the hotel.”

“That’s strange. It doesn’t sound like her to disappear like that without tell-” The sound of her phone beeping made Jurina pause.

Mayu flashed a grin. “Let me guess. She sent you a text.”

“She… did,” Jurina felt so awkward.

“All right!” Yuki clapped her hands together. “Who wants an ice cream? I don’t know about you, but the heat is killing me.”

Jurina put her phone away and nodded positively, her mouth already watering in delicious anticipation.

It was almost 6 p.m. when Jurina returned to the hotel with Mayu and Yuki, quite proud to not having let herself get carried away. Oh yes, she had an absolute fun time shopping, yet her amount of purchases could in no way match Yuki’s frenzy: her friend had literally cleaned out the luxury shops of the avenue.

After parting ways in the corridor with the other couple, Jurina slid her magnetic keycard and entered room 22, her gaze immediately landing on the familiar girl admiring the view from the balcony. Putting her shopping bags away, Jurina carefully removed her shoes and progressed inside. She briefly observed Rena’s purchases lined up next to her suitcase and she came up behind her, her arms locking around her waist. “Where did you disappear early on? I was worried.”

Rena placed her hand atop of hers, brushing the silver band on Jurina’s ring finger. “I’m sorry,” She brought Jurina’s hand to her lips, gently kissing her knuckles. “I remembered that I forgot to buy something.”

“What was it?” Jurina burned with curiosity. “Did you manage to find it? Why didn’t you tell me? I could have gone with you.”

“So many questions,” Rena chuckled softly. Swinging around, she folded her arms around Jurina’s neck and kissed the tip of her nose. “Didn’t you have fun with Yuki and Mayu?”

“I did,” Jurina replied, then added jokingly. “Even though I had to prevent Mayu from buying the whole manga section, and Yuki went on a shopping spree.”

“That would have been interesting to watch,” Rena laughed.

Jurina brought their lips together. “I really missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Rena caressed her hair, then added teasingly. “But you do realize we were only separated for two hours, right?”

“It doesn’t change the fact that I missed you,” Jurina pouted sulkily, extricating herself from the embrace. “So, what did you buy? Clothes? More shoes? Show me!”

Jurina didn’t have the opportunity to walk away, that Rena had pulled her back into her arms. “Nothing that important. Just some clothes I really liked.”

Jurina studied her closely, suspicious arising. For some reason, she couldn’t shake off the strange feeling that her girlfriend looked a bit too innocent and sweet. “Are you hiding something?”

“Why would I ever do that? And why does it seem that you are more interested in what I bought, than by your girlfriend who’s standing right in front of you?” Rena teased with a fake offended tone.

“No, I’m sure you’re hiding something from me,” Jurina narrowed her eyes at her. Leaning closer, she nibbled Rena’s earlobe, playfully biting on the pink tip. “And trust me when I say I will discover what it is.”

“Mmm,” Rena purred. Her fingers pressed in Jurina’s back, as she got possessively pinned against the nearest wall. “You seem so determined. I’m very curious to discover what you have in mind.”

Jurina’s heart pounded at her provocative gaze. The sensual stroking of Rena’s hands exploring the hollows of her back sent pleasant jolts through her, and she wondered just how cunning Rena could sometimes be. Her lips drifted to the side of Rena’s neck, grazing, teasing more than kissing it. When she managed to elicit a moan from her partner, Jurina felt a warm glow of satisfaction. Clasping her lips to Rena’s, she fiercely covered her mouth, well decided to get to the bottom of the mystery. 

Two short days.

It was all that remained left of their magical stay in Paris.

As she and Rena exited the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre, Jurina tried her best to ignore her growing melancholy. If only the week hadn’t passed so incredibly fast. After such an amazing and authentic experience, it was going to take some time to re-adapt to her daily life in Japan. They hopped down the funicular, Jurina stealing discreet glances at the older girl walking by her side. Somehow, her girlfriend didn’t seem to share similar feelings. On the contrary, she appeared even more delighted than the first day, as if the approach of their departure wasn’t affecting her. When Rena casually slipped her hand inside hers, Jurina didn’t hesitate to intertwine their fingers together, soon falling deep in her thoughts.

If there’s one thing she had picked up on, it was that Rena had been behaving unusually mysterious. It had begun a few weeks ago, when Rena had showed great insistence in taking care of their holidays planning. It had continued at the airport, when a few declarations from Rena had caught her off guard, the occurrences increasing once in Paris. It was of apparent no consequence, Rena remaining nothing but sweet and affectionate, that Jurina hadn’t thought too much about it.

The previous evening, when Jurina had asked to see what Rena had bought in her absence, her simple request was met with a refusal. Nevermind how persuasive she tried to be, Rena had dodged the question with a disconcerting naturalness. Jurina didn’t believe to have a paranoid nature. However, this strange secrecy and those subtle changes in her attitude were beginning to unsettle her.

Was she making a big deal out of nothing, or Rena had something on her mind that she refused to share?

They were taking a stroll in the lively Place du Tertre, where many painters, portraitists and caricaturists exposed their work, when Rena stopped by the stall of a street artist. “These are amazing.”

“They are,” Jurina said, impressed by the quality and variety of the art exposed. From landscapes and portraits, to watercolor and pencil sketches, the male artist in his thirties who was quietly working on a sketch in front of the bystanders, had more than one string to this bow. “His portraits are so realistic.”

“Why don’t you ask him to do yours?” Rena suggested, reading the sign indicating in English that the artist offered to draw portraits. “We have plenty of free time this afternoon. There’s no rush.”

After a short moment’s reflection, Jurina gladly acquiesced. Rena stepped forward and exchanged a few words with the male artist, the latter inviting Jurina to sit down on the stool. Jurina patiently took the pause while he was preparing his pencils, following from her peripheral vision Rena who was going through his paintings. Somehow, this arrangement didn’t quite feel right.

“I have a better idea,” Jurina flipped around, decidedly catching Rena’s hand. “I want a drawing of the both of us.”

“You do?” Rena looked pleasantly surprised. “Alright. Let me check if it’s something he agrees to do.”

Jurina waited in anticipation, understanding the request had been accepted when a second stool was placed next to hers.

A light wind was blowing across her face, agreeably freshening the air from the scorching heat of August. On a few occasions, she couldn’t resist playing with Rena’s fingers or whisper to her ear a few jokes, an act that didn’t fail to earn her to be gently chastised. According to the older girl, you weren’t supposed to move during the process. Jurina frowned and decided she didn’t care, planting a quick kiss on Rena’s cheek in retaliation. The mischievous gesture was received with another warning and a small giggle. 

When the artist put his pencil down at last, Jurina was eager to discover the result. The least she could say, it was that it went far beyond her expectations. In a short amount of time, he had drawn their facial features with a striking accuracy. But what impressed her the most, was the way he had transcribed their body language. He had made the decision to portray them face to face, their mutual fondness evident to anyone who could have taken a peek at the drawing. Jurina found herself deeply moved and thanked him wholeheartedly, determined to find a place at home to hang this piece of art.

“Wait for me here,” Rena paused in the hotel hallway, and gave Jurina’s shoulder a brief, light squeeze. “I need to go to the reception.”

“Alright.” Jurina gathered at her feet their shopping bags full of French delicacies from the bakeries of Montmartre, and stole a peek at her watch.

When she noted that it was 6 p.m., she let out a short, sad sigh. The day had flown by so fast, that she wished she had the ability to freeze time. Much as she tried her best to forget about it, she got reminded of the imminence of their departure on far too many occasions. No, she wasn’t ready to go back. If only she could extend their stay: visit more monuments, test more French bakeries, and wander around the cobblestone streets of Paris a little longer with her friends and her precious partner.

Glancing back in Rena’s direction, she suddenly caught sight of Mayu’s familiar silhouette entering the hotel. This morning, both couples had split up, having organized their program for the day differently. Jurina waved at her, impatient to learn what their friends had been up to, only to be startled by the large colorful bouquet of flowers Mayu was holding. “What are those for?”

“It’s for Yuki. Today is our 10-year anniversary,” Mayu said.

Jurina was rendered almost speechless by the news. “10 years? I never realized you had been together for so long…”

“We have, and that’s why tonight we’re having a special dinner to celebrate it,” Mayu explained. “I wanted to surprise her with these flowers.”

Jurina found herself touched, and also slightly entertained by her best friend’s love gesture. “My best friend is a romantic after all.”

“Of course I am,” Mayu scoffed, pretending to be offended. “Anyway, what are you doing here? Are you waiting for something?”

“Rena,” Jurina replied, gesturing to the older girl standing by the reception. “You know, I will miss this place.” She swept around the majestic and luxurious marble decoration of the hotel hallway. “The direct view on the Eiffel Tower. The romantic decoration of the room. The gifts every day. If I ever have the chance to come back to Paris, I will definitely stay here.”

“What are you talking about?” Mayu asked, puzzled. “The room is cozy and spacious, but it wouldn’t say it was specifically romantic? And aside from a welcoming letter, we didn’t get any gifts.”

It took Jurina several seconds to shake off the resulting stupefaction. “You didn’t have rose petals spread all over the bed at your arrival?”

Her question was received with a negative nod.

“No gifts?” Jurina insisted. “No cakes? No chocolates? No offered dinners in big restaurants? No free wine tasting? No private visits? Nothing?”

“Eh no,” Mayu replied again. “Trust me, I would have remembered.”

Jurina was beyond confused. “I don’t understand…”

Mayu stared back at her skeptically. “Are you sure you didn’t book a special room or something?”

“I didn’t book it, Rena did,” Jurina clarified. “And she told me that she didn’t-” she stopped mid-way, realization hitting her.

Mayu grinned, and clapped her amiably on the shoulder. “It seems your girlfriend hasn’t been entirely honest with you. Anyway, I have to go. Yuki is waiting for me. Dinner is at 7, and I don’t want to be late!”

Jurina nodded, unable to speak when her best friend drew away, her eyes soon flying up in shock to Rena at the unforeseen revelation.


Rena was describing how lovely their day had been in Montmartre, but Jurina was anything but attentive. All the way leading to their hotel room, she felt like a naive fool. Rena had assured her that she hadn’t booked a special room, and she had fell for it. The beautiful romantic decoration, the everyday gifts: now everything made sense. It wasn’t due at all to the hotel’s signature as she initially believed.

“Is everything alright?” The sound of Rena’s voice brought her back to reality. “You haven’t listened to a word I’ve been saying,” Rena remarked worriedly, closing the hotel door behind them. “What’s on your mind?”

Jurina flashed a big smile before she answered. “I know everything. The room. The rose petals. The everyday gifts. You’re responsible for all those things.”

Rena stood there briefly, stunned. “How do you… How do you know?”

“I had an interesting talk with Mayu,” Jurina went on, proud to have caught her off guard. “Their room is nothing like ours. They didn’t get all those gifts from the hotel staff. No rose petals, no chocolates, no invitations, nothing. So, there’s no point of hiding the truth from me anymore.”

“I guess you were bound to know about it,” Rena carefully processed her words, then added cheekily. “Well done, you discovered my secret.”

“Why?” Jurina asked, with a mixture of disbelief and happiness. “Why did you do all this for me?”

“I wanted our vacations to be special,” Rena said with unconcealed affection. She placed a hand upon Jurina’s cheek, gently caressing it with her thumb. “To make sure our stay in Paris remained imprinted in our minds and in our hearts forever.”

“But it’s already special,” Jurina whispered, warming from inside. She gathered her into her arms and held her close. “I’m here, with you, in Paris. What more could I ask for?”

“Yukirin, are you here?” Mayu called, dissimulating the flower bouquet behind her as she entered their hotel room.

“In here!” Yuki shouted inside of the bathroom. “I’ll be ready in 5 min!”

“Take your time,” Mayu replied, trying not to sound too giddy. She examined once more her bouquet of flowers, quite pleased with her selection. Controlling her excitement, she had to stop herself from pacing the room. She could already predict Yuki’s shock when she would discover her present.

A couple of minutes later, the bathroom door flew open. “I know, I’m so sorry I’m late. For some weird reason, the keycard refused to open the door when I arrived, then it’s the hairdryer that wouldn’t work. And finally, when I put my dress on, the zipper refused to close! I was about to lose my mind! Can you imagine? How can someone be so unlucky on their wedding anniversary?!”

“It’s only 6:30 p.m.,” Mayu reassured her.

“It is?!” Yuki asked in disbelief, checking the time. “My God, you’re right. I thought it was much later than that,” she heaved a deep sigh of relief. “Are you…” she leaned to the side, trying to catch a glimpse of Mayu’s back. “Are you hiding something?”

“Those are for you,” Mayu announced proudly, bringing the flowers out of their hideout. “Happy anniversary.”

Yuki stared at her in wonder.

“For me?” Yuki took a step nearer, contemplating them. “They are… so beautiful.” Her eyes glowed with happiness. “Thank you, my Mayuyu.” She brought their lips together in a kiss. “You always manage to surprise me in the most unexpected way. Do you know how much I love you?”

“I love you too,” Mayu’s face brightened.

Yuki cupped her chin, pressing another kiss to her cheek. “Let me finish applying makeup, and we can leave, alright?”

“Alright,” Mayu nodded, smiling. As Yuki reentered the bathroom, she studied her wife in appreciation, then casually leaned against the doorframe. “By the way, you won’t imagine what I discovered. It looks like Rena booked a special romantic room for their stay, and planned gifts and surprises for Jurina every day.”

“She did?” Yuki faced her back in astonishment. “That’s so sweet of her.”

“And you know what’s the funniest thing?” Mayu added wryly. “Jurina didn’t even realize she was behind it all this time.”

“Really?!” Yuki laughed merrily. “You know, I’m beginning to suspect this trip will hold many more surprises.”

“More surprises? What do you mean?” Mayu asked, bewildered.

Yuki gave a conspirational smile. “I don’t know. Just a hunch.”

“You look…” Jurina paused for a breath, her mouth curving with infinite fondness. “You look so beautiful tonight.”

A telltale blush crept into Rena’s cheeks, giving away her embarrassment. “Will you please stop complimenting me tonight? You haven’t stopped ever since we left the hotel.”

“I can’t help it. This red dress looks so beautiful on you. Everything tonight is just…” she tore her eyes away from her attractive partner, to once more enjoy the view outside the window. “Perfect.”

Yes, this Friday evening was a dream come true. After learning about Rena’s thoughtful tokens of affection, Jurina quickly discovered it was far from the only surprise her girlfriend had been planning for their trip in Paris. Following that, Rena had informed her that they would be having dinner in a new lovely place. Jurina did try to find out more, but Rena had refused to divulge the tiniest bit of information, using her most appealing charms to convince her to wait and be a little more patient.

Jurina could do nothing else but surrender and, choosing her nicest blue evening dress, had followed her without questioning, not believing her eyes when the taxi had stopped them in front of an enchanting Parisian boat on the Seine. The small tables decorated by candle lights. The spectacular view on the Eiffel Tower. The smooth music playing in the air. The waiters attentive to their every need. Every single detail contributed to create the perfect romantic mood.

It was a chic restaurant, but not too uptight, enabling them to remain laidback and casual. The male waiter had barely removed the main dish that the Eiffel Tower began to shine, marking its characteristic nightly illuminations. The sight was so mesmerizing that Jurina was unable to look away, the other customers of the restaurant having also momentarily stopped eating to appreciate the view.

A few evenings ago, she and Rena had been granted with such a breathtaking sight when they had gone on a late stroll to admire the illuminated city by night. Nevertheless, Jurina found herself as equally amazed, never getting tired of admiring the Iron Lady in all its glory and magnificence.

“We’re visiting the Eiffel Tower tomorrow, right?” Jurina asked, recalling how adamant her girlfriend had been on keeping that specific visit for their final day in the French capital.

When she received no immediate reply, she glanced back in her direction, only to distinguish a hint of nervousness in Rena’s brown orbs.

“Is everything alright?” Jurina extended her arm across the table, only to feel Rena’s fingers lightly trembling inside her hand. As she tried to take a grasp of the situation, she was forced to admit that she had noted a subtle shift in her girlfriend’s attitude during the course of dinner. From engaging and smiling, Rena had turned a little quieter and more tense as the evening had progressed.

“Yes, of course.”

The response did nothing to reassure her, not fooled by her girlfriend’s apparent calm. Jurina opened her mouth to speak, but didn’t have the opportunity to say a word that they were interrupted by the arrival of the waiter. “Chocolate-passion sphere, bursts of brownies and crunchy streusel,” he announced, meticulously placing both their desserts in front of each of them. 

“Thank you,” Jurina politely replied.

The male waiter bowed courteously and left, Rena’s previous behavior momentarily falling at the back of her head as Jurina contemplated the chocolate dessert that had been served. A few months ago, she had followed the elaboration of that specific dessert on a cooking show, but never had she had the possibility to taste it. On the right side of the plate, was disposed a white jar filled with hot chocolate. Jurina seized it, dexterously pouring the hot liquid over the top of the sphere. At the contact, the sphere slowly melted, reveling a small square red box hidden inside.

Jurina stared, complete surprise on her face.

She glanced over the other side of the table, only to note that Rena’s dessert remained untouched. When their eyes locked, Rena had a knowing smile mixed with a little bit of apprehension. “Don’t tell me… Don’t tell me you bought me another gift. Really, this is too much. I didn’t even buy you anything.”

“This one is special.”

Jurina felt torn between happiness at the generous displays of affection, and a sense of unease that she didn’t deserve so much. “The romantic hotel room, the everyday gifts, the wonderful restaurants. I’m so touched you did all this for me. But Rena, it wasn’t necessary. Being with you, here in Paris, already makes me the happiest person alive. You do know that, right?”

“Please… Please open it. I promise everything will make sense once you do.”

Jurina didn’t know what to make of her cryptic words. She lowered her gaze to the box, literately feeling the anticipation emanating from the other side of the table as she popped it open. When its content appeared to her, Jurina’s eyes opened wide in shocked disbelief. Inside the red velvet box was a white gold sapphire and diamond ring, along with a message written in gold letters.

Will you marry me?

Jurina’s heart stopped. How long did she stare at the inscription and at the ring, she didn’t know. It was only the feeling of Rena’s fingers gently touching hers that managed to snap her out of her daze. Progressively, she brought her attention back to her, only to see Rena gazing at her with a tender, slightly nervous look. 

“Jurina Matsui, will you spend the rest of your life with me?”

Jurina was rendered utterly and completely speechless. If Rena wasn’t currently holding her hand, she would be convinced to be imagining the whole scene. Despite understanding the words loud and clear, Jurina had a hard time processing what just happened. Was Rena really proposing to her? “No…”

“No? No… to what?”

Rena’s face displayed apprehension. 

“No, I mean,” Jurina quickly came back on her words when she realized what she had uttered without thinking. “I don’t… I don’t understand.”

“What don’t you understand?” Rena was confused.

“I thought…” Jurina paused and maneuvered her thoughts, trying to ignore her heart now beating uncontrollably against her ribs. “I thought you didn’t want to get married. I remember you saying it so many times. You seemed so sure of yourself. So why…”

There was a moment of silence.

“It’s true, I did say it,” Rena said lucidly. “But if there’s one thing that life taught me, it’s that it’s senseless to try so hard to not stray away from a path we strongly believe to be the only correct one.”

Rena thought for a moment, before continuing.

“For so long, I only wanted to focus on my career. Nothing else mattered than to fulfill my biggest dreams and to have a successful professional life. I never planned to share my life with anyone, even less to fall in love. But it happened, with you. When I the least expected it, you awoke feelings within me that I didn’t know existed. For the first time, I realized I didn’t want to do all those things only for myself. I wanted to share them with someone, and that person is you.”

Rena tightened her hold around Jurina’s hand.

“I don’t want us to ever be separated again. When we met each other in last December, and you granted me your unconditional forgiveness, I got back the other half of my heart. The following months we spent together were so blissful. When I asked you to move in together and you said yes, I couldn’t be any happier. But soon enough, I couldn’t shake off the sensation that something was missing to make my life more complete. I was frustrated at myself for failing to put a word on what I was feeling. I could tell you were happy too, so I didn’t understand why a part of me remained unfulfilled. The day Mayu and Yuki announced their engagement, a switch flipped inside me. For the first time, I could see with such vivid clarity.”

Rena’s eyes shone with determination.

“When I witnessed them so delightfully happy at their wedding, surrounded by their loved ones, I knew I wanted to experience such a significant moment with you. My feelings for you have never changed, and they will always remain intact. I want to show you how entirely committed I am to you, and for all the years to come.”

There was a short pause as they looked intently at each other.

“Is it what you went to buy on the Champs Elysées?” Jurina whispered in breathless amazement, her voice thick with emotion. “What you didn’t want me to see?”

“It is,” Rena confessed. “A few weeks ago, I called the shop from Tokyo to choose the design, and had it personally handmade. The difficult part was to retrieve it without you discovering about it.”

Jurina could hear nothing else but the wild thumping of her heart, holding back the tears threatening to come to her eyes. It was too easy to get lost in the way Rena looked at her, with a love and dedication that almost flipped her heart over. “I love you,” Jurina leaned forward across the table, quickly pressing her lips against hers. “I love you, Rena. I love you so much.”

They shared a long, slow, tender kiss.

“I love you too,” Rena whispered, affectionately caressing her cheek. “But…” There was a momentary hesitation before she added. “You haven’t answered. Are you ready to take this next step in our relationship? Will you marry me?”

“There’s no one I love more than you,” Jurina felt as if her heart would burst with joy. “You are not just my soulmate; you are the love of my life. I can’t imagine my life without you. Yes, I will. I will marry you.”

Elation suffused Rena’s whole being.

This time, Rena was the one to smash their lips together, kissing her passionately. In that précised instant, it was as if the world had evaporated around them, none of them caring about the curious, amused looks directed at her. All that mattered was the two of them, their hearts beating in unison with the promise of an eternal future together.


Author's note: I hope everyone enjoyed this long 30-page chapter! Don't hesitate to drop a comment to let me know your thoughts. Next chapter will be the epilogue, final conclusion of the trilogy.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2019, 04:14:31 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

- Heartbeat | Completed
- Partners | Completed
- Destiny | Completed

- Warriors | Ongoing
- Back in Time | Ongoing
- One Shot collection: Her Sun | Completed
- Fire and Water | On hiatus

Offline ojuri 0513

  • Member
  • Posts: 13
The part when rena propose jurina wow that was so touching and romantic. I always thought jurina will be the one who propose since she look like the one in pants in their relationship.

Mayuki already got married mayu is so sweet and flustered yuki is cute too. Can't help to tease her.

Btw amazing story author san

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