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The Hello! Project Fanfics => H!P Fanfics => Library => Topic started by: OTN1 on June 02, 2007, 05:47:22 AM

Title: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 02, 2007, 05:47:22 AM
This picks up where Love x ∞ (http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11131.msg366359#msg366359) left off in the "other world" Aya was thrown into.  What if at that point, Aya returned to her own world, but another copy of her remained in the other world?  One answer to such a question, told from Miki's POV.

No huge plans for this one.  A few chapters of exploration.  Let's see where this one winds up...

Restart

Chapter 1


I woke up suddenly.  My eyes just snapped open and I saw a sight completely different from what I usually saw in the mornings.  I was lying beside someone I'd only met two months ago.  A girl with long, dark hair and light, creamy skin that most people in the world would only ever see in moisturizer commercials.

Dear god, what did I do??

I panicked and started to hyperventilate as I rolled onto my back and looked at the unfamiliar hotel room ceiling.

I had cheated on my boyfriend, my almost-fiancé, with a famous idol.  Willingly.  And she was a girl.  I had stayed overnight in a hotel where guests of guests were not allowed to do so.  And I'd forgotten to call my parents to tell them I wouldn't be home for the night!  Somehow, even that last one seemed vitally important to note during my crisis.

My parents.  Oh, my poor parents!  If they ever discovered what the precious baby of the family was secretly doing behind closed doors, they'd never forgive themselves (or their precious baby).  I'd be disowned, ridiculed, shamed, gossiped about, run out of town...

But wait.  I was being selfish.  What about Aya?  Her career would be destroyed.  Her life would be even more ruined than mine.  I was just some country daughter, but she was nation-wide famous.  She wouldn't be able to walk to the store without being stared at or whispered about.  Her face would be plastered on all the gossip magazines and the newspapers.  Maybe they'd say she'd been seduced by some crazy Hokkaido delinquent whose goal was to tarnish the reputation of her most hated idol.

No, wait another minute.  That would hardly seem fair.  If anybody had been seduced, it had been me.  She was the one who had come here to this town, gotten to know me, kissed me, and then had made me stay overnight after she wouldn't let me get up from her bed.  She had led it all.  The attack.  She knew exactly what it all meant, and she knew exactly what to do with me and how to keep me there all night without a complaint.

Okay, so I had asked for it.  I had wanted it.  At the time.  I was feeling sad because she was leaving, confused because Hiroshi had proposed, and bewildered about a million other things.  But it had to have been a momentary lapse in judgement.

What am I going to do? I thought in desperation.

I blinked.  Maybe it had all been a hallucination.  But no, she was still there, curled up under the covers and facing away.  I couldn't see her face.  It was covered by her hair.  All I could see was the back of her head.  I knew she was asleep because of her breathing.  It was slow and steady, hardly making a sound.

What time is it? I wondered.

I looked at the bedside table at the standard hotel-issue alarm clock.  It read eight-thirty-eight.  Considering her flight time, I did the math and figured out that she'd probably want to be getting up in an hour to get ready to leave.

What was I supposed to do?  Stay?  Maybe I could sneak out and just let her go back to Tokyo, pretending this had never happened.

That's what I decided to do.  I'd leave before she woke up.  It would be perfect.  Nobody would ever find out.  I'd tell my parents I'd stayed at a friend's house, and Aya could go back to Tokyo peacefully without having to exchange any awkward words and excuses with me.  We'd never have to meet again.

That's what I would do.

And yet I continued to lie there on my side and stare at the back of her head.  I found myself wondering what would happen if I stayed.

If I stayed, I could find out her true reaction.  If I stayed, I could ask her all the questions in my head about what it all meant to her and why she did it.

My heart lurched when I thought of Hiroshi.  What would he think if he saw me now?  Or worse, what would he have thought if he had seen me last night, wrapped in someone else's arms as she said things to me that made me want to forget every point of my comparatively miserable existence until I met her.

What if I didn't really care what he thought?

That struck me as an oddity because I still really loved him.  Very much.  He was a lot like me.  Normal, but with a hidden quirky streak (although he was much weirder).  Raised in a small town but yearning to break out of this enclosed life and strive for something more.  He'd tried to do that by going to university in Sapporo, but somehow we both knew that he'd wind up coming back here to this rundown town to live.

For a brief moment as I lay there, I wanted nothing more than to marry him.  I had to.  We were a perfect match.

But the uncertainty came back.  If we got married to each other, we wouldn't escape that thing we both hated.  We'd be clinging onto each other because it would be the safe thing to do.  What we wanted, though, was to reach out and grab a bit of excitement, and we weren't able to provide that for each other.

With Aya, that had changed for me.  The minute she came to town, everything changed.  The time we spent together was the best I'd ever had.  She had piles of things to offer me.  She had a way of connecting with me that made me want nothing else.  Being with her may not have been safe or secure, but it felt more like living.  Maybe Hiroshi would understand that I couldn't marry him.  It would be for our own goods.

Just then, Aya stirred and my thoughts came to a halt.  Was she going to wake up?

She turned around and settled onto her side so that she was facing me, but her eyes were still closed.  She didn't seem ready to wake up.  She was teetering on the edge of consciousness, just barely there.  Her face looked radiant to me, even in such a state of sleep.  It looked like she was smiling.

I grew impatient, and with a bout of self-confidence that flew at me from nowhere, I reached my hand out and tapped her wrist, which was curled in front of her chin.

"Good morning," I whispered.

The first half of my greeting came out nice and strongly, but the confidence slipped out of my grasp in mid-word, and so the second half ended up weak and mumbled.

What was I doing??

Aya's eyelids fluttered open slowly, and I shrank back a bit as she focused on my face.

"Hmmm.  Good morning," she purred back with a sleepy smile.

How did she do that?  She sounded so at ease.  As if this was the most normal thing in the world.  It was baffling.  I smiled warily at her, and the smile dropped from her face.

"Bombs away!" I heard a little voice in a fighter plane yell as Aya's expression quickly sped from content to something closer to the opposite end of the spectrum.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly.  "I got a little carried away."

A little?  I'd say a lot.  She got so carried away that there I was in bed with her the next morning, completely naked, might I add, and I'm sure with not just a few red marks here and there.

I didn't say anything to her because I had no clue what to say.  What was I supposed to say?  I didn't even know how I felt.  How could I get her to try and understand anything in my brain when I couldn't understand it?

She must have mistaken my silence for anger or discomfort.

"But you kind of asked for it," she said, giving me a pointed look.

I certainly had asked for it after she'd stirred up my curiosity.

"I'm not upset," I said quickly.

I was clear on that much.  I wasn't upset.  Just confused.

"You look upset," she countered, sounding so sure of herself.

I wasn't upset.  She was wrong.  But then it struck me that maybe this was her method of trying to give me a way out.  I could leave and it would all be okay.  We wouldn't have to talk.

But that would be cowardly.  The truth was that I wanted to stay.  Stick it out.  Figure it all out.

"I'm not," I said firmly.  "I just want to ask you a question.  What does this mean?"

I had done it.  I had asked a good question.

"What does what mean?"

I didn't get annoyed by the question being thrown back at me because I knew she wasn't trying to be difficult and skirt the issue.  There were many ways my question could be interpreted.

"Well, do you usually sleep with your friends?" I asked in a blunt and perhaps far too sly tone.

I couldn't help it!  The idea of Aya being that type of person was foreign to me.

"No," she said, a look of surprise on her face.

Strangely enough, that was all she said.

"Then tell me why you did it," I demanded, gaining back my confidence.

"Couldn't you tell?" she asked so quietly that I had to strain my ears to hear her.

"Tell what?" I mumbled.

"Couldn't you tell last night why I did that?"

Her eyes pierced me with a look that I had seen the night before just as we had started down that long road that had led us here.  It had been erased early on, but now it was back.  A lost and needy look that was so out of place on her beautiful face.

I shook my head, and her gaze only intensified in its sadness.

The truth?  I knew.  Deep down inside, I knew.  I saw it in those eyes the night before.  Why she had made me - no, let me - stay over.  It was because she needed me.  She wanted me.  I didn't know how long she'd felt that way, but it was pretty obvious, especially after she'd almost uttered a confession during a very quiet moment we had shared.

She really almost had.  We were lying facing each other.  I was looking at her, and she had a hand on my shoulder, running her thumb lightly over my skin.  A look came over her face and she took a breath to say something, but she never said it.  She resigned herself to letting it go, and then distracted me from asking any questions (such as "what were you going to say?") by casually pushing me away and onto my back.

But that look.  I knew that look.  I'd seen it before twice.  Once was when Hiroshi had uttered the words "I love you" for the first time.  The other time was when Hiroshi had asked me to marry him, which had just been the other day.

The sheer absurdity of the latter being Aya's reason to almost speak, I assumed it was the former. 

No, I didn't assume.  I knew.  There was no doubt that what was in her eyes was love, and I stupidly ignored it, brushing it off as a facial expression brought on by the heat of the moment.

The next morning, though, it was clear.

And what did I feel?

I didn't know.  It couldn't be love.  Not after two months.  But chemistry?  Yes, there was a whole lot of that.  I couldn't deny it.  But I needed to know something first.

"Why do you like me so much?  You've only known me for a few months."

She stayed silent, her eyes downcast.  I had to fill up that silence.

"Is there something you want from me?"

I shouldn't have said that, but it just tumbled out of my mouth in a clumsy, unplanned way.  Aya looked at me with a glare, under which I withered.

"You think I'm trying to get something from you?" she asked sharply.

In my weakened state, I only shook my head.  She huffed out a breath of air.

"I knew this was a mistake.  I should have sent you off home before it happened," she snapped self-admonishingly.

What was I?  A kid that had to be told when to go home?  What a condescending girl.  She started it.  I just asked her to continue it, and she most certainly did continue it.

Living with my mother for twenty-five years, however, had forced me to learn how to not explode with anger.  (My mom could be a scary woman when aggravated, and I sensed some of that in Aya.)

"I didn't mean it like that," I said evenly, but with a hard tone.  "I guess I can't imagine why someone like you would be after someone like me."

I thought what I said was supposed to console her, but it had the opposite effect of making her angrier.

"Will you stop it with that?" she bit back.  "Stop saying 'someone like you' as if we're from different worlds.  Just because I'm on TV and people know my name, it-"

"Wait a minute," I interrupted.  "I never said anything of the sort.  I meant a person with a strong heart and mind like yours.  I wasn't talking about fame or whatever.  I don't give a crap about that."

She looked positively embarrassed for having misinterpreted my words, but she quickly relaxed

"Anyway," I continued.  "My first question still stands.  Why do you like me so much?"

"I can't explain it well without sounding crazy," she sighed, dropping the last vestiges of her guard.  "I just know you and your heart better than you think.  You complete something in me."

I couldn't deny that I felt something like that in the air between us.  The feeling that together, we made an ultra duo.  A perfectly working, well-oiled unit.  We were in tune.  I wouldn't call if love, but the potential for it was almost smothering.

"Oh," I said softly.

Her eyes flickered up to look at my face and gauge my true reaction.  She saw me looking probably a little bewildered and shy.

"Anyway, forget it," she said quickly, rolling up to get out of bed.  "It's crazy talk.  I have to shower."

She grabbed the top blanket and covered herself to get out of bed, but I grabbed onto the edge because the rest of the sheets were tangled at the foot of the bed.  I didn't want to be left lying there, exposed to the cold.

I also did it to entice her to stay for a moment.

She mumbled a distracted apology and reached for the other sheets, but I quickly took her wrist and forced her to lie down again, covering her up with the blanket I'd yanked away from her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Let's stay here together a bit more," I said with newfound courage.  "You don't have to get up this early."

But as usual, the courage left me and must have gone into her, because a look came over her face and she scared my by slithering up to me and planting a big, sleepy kiss on my lips.  We'd done more than that the night before, yet it surprised me and froze me up.  I thought that despite all our talk this morning, last night would have been it. There would be no continuation.  We'd return to what we were before.

Then I thought, Screw that.

It was us.  We weren't computers that terminated programs and started new ones according to system and order.  We were human beings with feelings that led us down winding corridors of discovery and excitement.

I wrapped my arms around her and let her climb onto me lazily.  Before anything got very serious, however, she lay herself back down beside me, her chin on my shoulder.

I want her to stay, I thought suddenly.  I want her to stay here with me so that I can figure all this out.

She must have seen my look.  Read it.

"I'm leaving today, you know?" she reminded me.

Everything inside me deflated.  So she wasn't going to stay.  I wasn't a good enough excuse to stay.  I couldn't believe how much I suddenly wanted her here.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah."

I grew curious.  She'd come here a few months ago claiming that she used to have family that lived here.  She told me about the big project she'd abandoned, and how coming here was her escape.

But why here?  Even if she once had had family here, what was the point?  They seemed to all be gone.  She didn't know anybody around here other than me, my family, and Baachan's family.  If she had really wanted to escape, she could have just as easily gone overseas, or at least she could have gone somewhere with a more hospitable climate in the winter.

And why had she suddenly quit that Italy project?  It didn't seem all that bad, and she wouldn't have been alone.  Her best friend from her Hello! Project days would have joined up with her there along with another former co-worker.  Aya avoided talking about it, though, and whenever I brought it up, she'd skilfully change the subject, although not without my noticing it.

"What was your point coming here?" I asked.

Maybe a bit forward, but then again we'd slept with each other the night before, so I assumed I held a bit of a privileged position that would allow me to be so direct.

I pulled away a bit so that I could see her face.  She looked down.  At first I thought she was just staring at my body and trying to make me feel uncomfortable, but then I realised it was because she was thinking hard.

"I came to find this," she finally answered, looking at my face as she spoke.

"Find what?" I asked, frowning.

"This," she repeated, and she put her arm around my stomach and hugged me to her.

She came to find me?  This closeness?  What did she mean?

"What do yo-"

She cut me off by putting her face right up to mine.

"Do you want me to leave?" she asked.

Was that a trick question?

"No," I mumbled.

"Do you want to come with me?"

I wondered if I had heard her properly.  Come with her?  To Tokyo?  No.  She must have just meant the station.  Or the airport.  I'd told her the night before that I'd wanted to go to Tokyo with her, but I'd gotten the sense that she hadn't taken me seriously.  I didn't even know if I had been serious.

"The airport?" I asked, pushing her away from me to see her face clearly.

She shook her head.

"Tokyo."

She meant it?  Go to Tokyo with her?  I wanted to.  So desperate was I that I would have jumped up from the bed at that moment and run onto a plane completely nude if it was the only way.

I nodded my head, but then stopped.

"I don't have a job there.  I'm in school.  My parents-"

She cut me off with one of her special, fiery kisses, leaving me a bit dazed and embarrassed.  Did she have to be so... touchy-feely?  I was still trying to get used to being naked in front of her, even with a bed sheet covering me.

"Forget it all.  Just come with me.  We'll find you a job.  You can stay with me until then.  And we can... we can hang out."

Hang out?  She meant do this every night, right?

"And Hiroshi?" I asked.

I saw her cringe as I said his name.  I hadn't wanted to bring him up, but I wanted to know what she thought.  I'd been going out with him for two years, and I'd been friends with him for even longer - about twelve years.  I did have a sense of loyalty and commitment.

"He's not invited," she said, eyeing me carefully.

I looked to the side, staring at a tiny brown mole on her arm.

"Do I just leave him?" I asked her.

And I really did ask her.  I wanted her opinion.  Her advice.  Biased or not.

"You do what you want.  If you want to marry him, fine.  I'll be going back to Tokyo.  You can forget that this happened and I'll never bring it up again.  If you want to leave him and come with me, then we'll be in it together."

Why did she want me in her life so badly?  How could I have impressed her after two months of friendship?  Was I really that great?

"What if you get bored of me?" I asked seriously.

It could happen.  The underlying reasons for her coming here could have been to find a distraction from the pressures at work.  Maybe she'd wanted to go somewhere that was familiar enough to her (within Japan) but far away enough from Tokyo so that she couldn't be traced as easily.  The trip would have been an outlet for her stress.  By finding some form of highly different entertainment - in this case, me - and amusing herself for a few months, she could work everything out of her system before going back and restarting her career.

Maybe she was a mind-reader, because she looked at me like I was a rare specimen of amoeba.  She laughed, hugging me tightly and kissing my ear in a sloppy and wet way that kind of grossed me out, kind of made me feel mushy.

"You don't get it, do you," she giggled into said ear.  "We're meant to be together.  It's destined.  It's written in the stars.  It's not a question of getting bored of you."

"There's no such thing as destiny," I frowned, avoiding the issue for a moment.

She drew herself up and looked down at me again, smiling.

"I knew you'd say that.  I just mean that I'm positive I want you to come with me.  Last night changed everything."

It certainly had.  I hadn't seriously thought of following Aya to Tokyo until that morning.

So dump Hiroshi.  Say goodbye to mom and dad.  Let Baachan give someone else a chance to work in that wonderful environment.  Drop school.

"Okay," I said.

"Okay what?" Aya asked.

"I'm coming with you."

Her face broke out into a smile, and she hugged me, putting her forehead against mine.

"See?  It's meant to be."

I smiled back.

"But I can't leave this afternoon.  I'll need a few days."

I would have to pack, fill out forms to officially drop my classes, talk to my parents, talk to Hiroshi, buy a plane ticket...

"Take your time," she said.  "I'll be waiting for you in the capital."

"A few days only.  I promise," I said unnecessarily.

In a few days it would be a new year.  I wondered if it would be possible to get a flight or a shinkansen ticket on such short notice.  Probably not, but I'd try.

"Do you have the money?" Aya asked.

A painful and potentially awkward question.  Obviously, my family wasn't rolling in riches, but we were doing all right for ourselves.  I did have enough money for a plane ticket and initial daily needs, but not enough to start a new life in a new city, especially a city that was said to be one of most expensive ones in the world.  The rent would eat me alive.

I hesitated for too long.

"Just worry about your plane ticket.  I'll take care of the rest."

"No," I protested.  "I ca-"

"I still owe you for all that cooking at Baachan's"

"That's her place, not mine," I mumbled.

"And you know you're staying with me," she went on, ignoring me.  "My bed's big enough for the both of us."

At my look of mortification, she made an exaggerated show of correcting her sentence.

"Oops.  I mean my apartment's big enough for two."

Her eyes twinkled wickedly.  Living with a beautiful devil child?  It could be very fun.  But I still had to turn down her offer.

"Aya-chan, I can't impose on you like that.  You have a life.  A job.  You're busy.  I'll get in the way.  You-"

She put a hand over my mouth, and my words came out muffled and unintelligible.

"If there's anything I want from you," she started, making a pointed reference to my earlier stupid question, "it's for you to be beside me all the time."

I pulled her hand away with both of mine and rested those three hands on my stomach.  I gave up.

"Okay."

A simple word and her face broke out into a radiant smile.

"But I'm going to find a job as soon as I land.  Or, uh, maybe the next day," I insisted.

"Fine by me.  I'll probably be getting fired while you're being hired," she laughed.

With that statement, I remembered that she was going to be in very big trouble when she got home.  She had told me she'd probably be out of work, but I wondered what kind of company would be dumb enough to fire such a popular idol.  She had come such a long way since her Hello! Project days and was arguably even more stable in her position as a familiar face than she'd ever been before.  Unless they planned to deliberately sabotage her reputation so that no other agency would take her, they were better off keeping her.

She stayed like that for five minutes, breathing being the only sound that could be heard.

"I have to call Hiroshi," I said out of the blue.

"What will you say to him?"

"That I'm moving.  That I can't marry him."

A deep silence greeted my reply.

"But not break up with him?" Aya asked curiously, betraying no other emotion.

"I'll do that, too," I said quietly.

Did she realise how painful it was for me?  Did she really understand what I had with Hiroshi?  He was first and foremost a childhood friend, and no matter how mysterious and weird he was, he'd been there with me during the big moments in my life.  It was going to be difficult cutting off ties with a part of my history, especially such a safe one.

But Aya had a way of comforting me that nobody else had.  Her hand tightened over mine as though she could sense the pain and the struggle in me.

"I'm really glad you're coming with me," she said quietly in a near whisper.

"Me too," I whispered back.

Breaking up with Hiroshi would be easier if I could hold Aya's hand while doing it.  Maybe she did offer me some semblance of security after all.  I felt like I could do anything if she was around.

When the time came, I helped her pack.  We took showers, and I had to borrow more clothes from her.  I knew, though, that I would be able to return them soon.  I offered to go to the airport with her, but she told me to go home and start working on my parents.  I was afraid they'd be hard to convince to let me go.  I was the baby.  They were used to having me there.  My mother would miss having me around to shop together, to cook dinner together, and to have incredible disputes together.

We said goodbye in the hotel room.  I would leave a few minutes before her to avoid the front desk's suspicions.  Aya could have gotten into trouble for having a guest over against the rules, and walking out together would make it quite obvious she'd broken the rules.

The goodbye was uncomfortable on my part because I wasn't very good at that sort of thing.

"See you in a few days," I said, holding a bag with my still-wet clothes from the previous night's romp in the snow.

"I'll contact you when I land," Aya smiled brightly.

There was an awkward pause.

Were we supposed to hug?

I settled for nothing but a tight smile and a nod.  I turned around and put my hand on the doorknob.

"Hey, Miki.  Wait," Aya called out, making me stop instantly and turn around expectantly.

She studied me seriously for a moment and then smiled.

"Bye bye," was all she said with a loving look on her face that was starting to become familiar.

I smiled a big, relaxed smile.

"Bye bye."

I waved my hand, turned on my heels, and walked out feeling like a shooting star during its blaze of glory.  I went down the elevator and strutted out of that hotel as if nothing were amiss.  Nobody at the front desk said a word as I walked by, and I smiled secretly to myself.  Maybe I could make it in Tokyo.  If I toughened up, nothing in the capital could take me.

And I knew for certain that if I had Aya there to help me, I'd surely go a long way.

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 02, 2007, 06:30:26 AM
Don't you tire? Lol! You're... everywhere!

[Good news for you, probably bad for me: that thing you asked about, it might happen this month... *groans* Remember, it's your fault!]
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 02, 2007, 06:43:17 AM
I do tire.  I'm physically exhausted from staying up late at night this past while.  But my imagination doesn't seem to care.  Hahaha.

And oh!  Good news, good news.  ^-^
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Estrea on June 02, 2007, 06:45:07 AM
Wow. :D I love you. XD

I always wondered what would happen if that so called alternate universe continued. XD

Now we get to see what happens with Miki ver.2 XD I can't wait. :D
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: iacus on June 02, 2007, 07:00:08 AM
Yay! :shakeit: Shake it baby!
This picks up where Love x ∞ left off
No huge plans for this one.  A few chapters of exploration.  Let's see where this one winds up...

I'm not too worried. Your fics always end up somewhere interesting.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: coachie on June 02, 2007, 09:04:18 AM
YOU ARE CRAZY!!!  :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Ren on June 02, 2007, 09:29:13 AM
Will Miki ver.2 become an idol too? XD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 02, 2007, 09:33:56 AM
Yes. You are crazy. But who am I to talk? Im far worse.

*buys front row tickets to OTN1's new story - RESTART: Miki's adventures in Tokyo*

I definately want to hear this one because Im sure its going to be good. A cheerful/angsty tale with no death. Unless Aya dies on the way home...but Im doubting it.

I like how its started - on the right foot. You seem to have Mikis character nailed and I dont know how you can keep in mind that she is still a country girl and not a Tokyo Idol like you have been writing her as for the last..oh god I dont even know how many stories. Because when you just look at it on the surface they both have the same personality, just different experiences.

Bring on the next chapters!!!!

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 02, 2007, 12:30:14 PM
YOU ARE CRAZY!!!  :lol:
Hahaha, I know!

Mikan, be careful.  Never say never.  I might kill them both.  Hah!

So I take it from this positive feedback that you guys aren't absolutely fed up with the Love x 2/∞ world yet?  :lol:  I hope I can keep some sort of decent and consistent standard throughout this story.  I know that in past stories, I've wavered a bit in the last chunks of chapters. 

Chapter 2 is coming along smoothly. 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 02, 2007, 01:42:06 PM
Mikan, be careful.  Never say never.  I might kill them both.  Hah!

Dont even joke! :O If anything of the sort happens Im going to your apartment to beat you senseless till you change it...or I might just hang around till you write up another 10 chapters of pointless fluff as a punishment.

Actually can we make that a rule?
One character dead = 10 chapters of fluff
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 02, 2007, 04:12:43 PM
Haha, you're the crazy one, Mikan!

Chapter 2

It was a bitterly cold morning.  My hands froze within minutes of being outside.  I tried my best to cover them with the sleeves of my jacket.  The rest of my body, though, felt warm, partly because I was thinking of Aya and the past seven hours, partly because I was scared out of my wits about facing my parents and Hiroshi and explaining to them my decision to leave home.

Despite my frozen fingers, I took out my cell phone and checked my messages.  There were three from my mother.  The first asked when I was coming home.  The second asked where I was.  The third stated that she was going to sleep, but to please get in touch in the morning.

I sighed and typed a quick message to her saying that I was on my way home from my friend's house and that I was sorry if she had been worried.  I continued to walk, and my mind started to prepare different thing to say.

"There's nothing for me here anymore.  I'm moving."

No...

"I'm moving to Tokyo and becoming a celebrity."

I laughed in my mind.  Silly.

"I'm moving to Tokyo and sleeping with a celebrity."

No, no, no.  No good.  I cringed at the thought of slipping up and saying that by accident.

"I can't marry you, Hiroshi.  I'm sorry."

My phone rang and mercifully pulled me away from my thoughts.  The message was from my mother.

Get home quickly!  There's a surprise for you.

A surprise?  I wondered what sort of surprise awaited me before noon.  Maybe my dad had gone out early to the bakery and gotten a loaf of that good bread we sometimes liked to buy on the weekend.  For a moment, I forgot about Aya, Tokyo, and Hiroshi, and I thought of nothing but eating yummy, warm bread fresh from the oven.

When I got home, there certainly was a surprise waiting for me.  It came in the form of a pair of old, but well-cared for sneakers.  They were very familiar to me, and when I saw them after opening the door, I tripped over my own feet and did a face plant on the floor in the entrance hall, alerting the whole family with a loud crash that their recently-turned-clumsy daughter was home.

"I'm home," I muttered into the chilly floorboards as several people gathered around me.

"Are you all right?" my mother asked worriedly, although I could hear the laughter that was masked by her tone of concern.

I groaned and nodded while getting up and slipping off my shoes.

"Are you sure you'd like to marry our daughter?" I heard my father say in a joking tone.

I cringed inwardly and turned around.  There was my father standing a metre away from me, and just behind him, a head taller, was Hiroshi.

What was he doing there?  And how did my dad know about the proposal?!  Had Hiroshi come here to elicit my parents' help in getting me to marry him?  If so, I was going to wring his neck.

I caught his eyes and sent him a death glare.  His eyes twinkled back, seemingly unconcerned with my irritation.

"She has her good moments," he told my father with a confident laugh.

I decided that the second we had a bit of privacy, I would throttle him.

"Hiroshi, what are you doing here?" I asked, trying to cover up my annoyance for the time being.

Hiroshi looked at my father first, then my mother, and then me.

"You left early and he missed you, so he called to ask if he could come over and surprise you late last night," my mom said for him.

That, I decided, was very, very sweet.  He had lousy timing, but he had a good heart.

I became cold with fear, though, after that warm and fuzzy moment.  This threw my whole plan off.  I couldn't just up and leave with him there.  Also, the fact that not even an hour ago, I'd been kissing someone else made me feel like a low life.  I was a cheater.  I hated people who cheated on their lovers.  Now I was one of them.

"Oh," I said reluctantly, and then added, "That's sweet."

Hiroshi and I exchanged glances, and I realised that I couldn't very well talk to him in the house.  The walls were paper thin.  My parents did not need to know the intimate details of our relationship.  I sucked in my guilt and smiled.

"Let's go," I said, reaching my hand out to him.

With a puzzled but easygoing look, Hiroshi took my hand.

"Where are we going?" he inquired.

"Out for a walk," I replied

We slipped on our shoes, said goodbye to my parents (who were somewhat bewildered by my behaviour), and set out towards the mountains.  It was the same walk I'd taken with Aya countless times during the past few months.  Hiroshi and I used to do it a lot when we were younger and he still lived in Takikawa fulltime.  We hadn't done one of these walks in a while, though.

I held Hiroshi's hand tightly as a million different phrases ran through my mind.  I wanted to explain everything to him, but I needed to find the right words because he deserved at least that much.  I also wanted to know why he'd told my parents he'd asked me to marry him.  Why would he do something like that when he knew me and my unwillingness to be swayed by other opinions?  Why would he try to get outside help?

We didn't talk while we walked, which wasn't unusual.  Sometimes we waited until we got to where we were going so that our conversation could be completely private.  Just between us and the trees, not the buildings, streets, and post boxes that we passed by.

We reached the edge of a cliff and stood to look out at the land below us.  Nothing but hills and pastures devoid of sheep.

"I need to talk to you seriously," I said, still holding his hand. 

Hiroshi continued to look forward, but his hand squeezed mine in a comforting way.

"You can't marry me," he said.

A...amazing, I thought, rather flabbergasted.

I looked down, my hand tightening around his.  He must've known from the moment he asked on Christmas Day.  The moment I said I needed to think about it.  And he'd been able to read me well enough just now to predict what I was going to talk about with him.

"I can't," I confirmed, my hand tightening around his, afraid that if I let go, I'd lose him forever.

Funny.  That's what was happening.  I was losing him - pushing him away voluntarily by breaking up.  And it hurt.  It hurt more than I could have imagined.  When I'd told Aya I'd break up with him, I hadn't imagined how much my heart would ache.  It was awful.  If only she could be here to tell me it was okay.  To hold my other hand and to comfort me...

"Can I ask why?" Hiroshi asked quietly, looking down at me.

I set my jaw in a hard way and tried to make a grim line with my mouth, but my heart wasn't in it.  I gave up, and I just rested my head on his chest as if listening to his heartbeat.  I couldn't hear it because of the thickness of his jacket and the layers he was wearing underneath.

"You and I aren't going anywhere," I murmured just loud enough for him to hear.  "We match well, but I know you can feel it too.  We're digging ourselves into a rut."

I spoke truthfully.  It was the only way that I could with him.

A few weeks after we'd started officially going out, Hiroshi had sat down with me and started a serious talk.

"If you're going to break my heart, just do it honestly," he had said to me.

At first, it had put me off.  He sounded so weak saying that.  Like a wimp signing a prenuptial agreement just in case.  Like he was accusing me in advance for doing something terrible like cheating on him.

The more I had thought about it that night and all through the next day, the more I had realised that he was stronger than any of the other boys I'd known.  He had had the courage to say that to me just as we were starting our relationship.  He'd wanted to set things right from the get go, and that was admirable.  It had made me fall for him just a little more.

From that day on, I never beat around the bush with him.  I was already a direct person, but with him, I could be myself and not have to worry about how hard I stepped on his toes.  If he was bothering me, I'd tell him.  If he was wrong, I'd tell him.  I expected (and received) the same treatment from him.  It was a mutual respect that I knew a lot of my friends hadn't been lucky enough to discover yet (if ever), and it was love of the real kind.

Fast forward through a few years, and there I stood, leaning against him and telling him that I couldn't marry him.

"Do you still love me?" he asked in a wavering voice.

Once I would have thought a wavering voice a pathetic display for a man.  But when you loved someone, that outlook softened and changed.

"Yes," I said honestly, looking up at him.  "I do.  But I can't marry you."

He looked down at me and I could swear that I saw unshed tears in his eyes.  They didn't spill out, though.  He was good at controlling that sort of thing.  The fact that I could see tears at all meant he was far more upset than I had imagined he would be.

"Will you ever be able to?"

I sighed.  This was it.

"No.  And what's more, I can't be with you anymore.  Like this.  I just can't."

He let go of my hand, and I suspected that he'd push me away from him, but instead, he hugged me closely.  I hugged him back.  There was no harm in a final moment with him.  We'd dated for two years.  You didn't just shut off your habits in one day.

"And I'm moving to Tokyo," I added in a small voice.

This caused him to suck in a surprised breath of air and push me away to get a clear look at my face.

"What?" he asked in disbelief.

"I haven't told my parents yet," I continued, looking away from him, "but it's pretty much a done deal."

"I... What?"

I looked down at the snow-covered ground between our feet.  I was shattering a life.  I was breaking it up into tiny fragments.  I was ripping apart his heart.

"You met someone else?" he asked in a tiny voice.

No, he didn't really ask.  He said it.  He could tell.  Maybe he'd seen one of those marks on my neck.  Aya had left a few. 

Come to think of it, she probably did that on purpose...

"It's complicated," I started, and he put a finger under my chin and forced me to look up at him.

His eyes were gleaming with emotion.  A lot of sadness and confusion, and a touch of anger.

"Don't avoid the question," he said to me.

"I'm not," I said defensively, shaking his hand off my face.  "I was just starting.  Yes, I met someone - a friend - who opened my eyes to the world out there, so now I have to go and see it."

Just at that moment, it started to snow.  Out of the blue.  Small flakes fluttered down on us, making the scene look unnaturally beautiful.  It would have been a confession scene in a movie, not a break up.

Hiroshi, indifferent to the snow, looked hurt, but when he spoke, he sounded so much more controlled.

"I thought that having each other would be enough, you know?" he sighed.  "Even if we moved here and became shepherds, at least we'd be together.  We wouldn't need fancy things."

This was Hiroshi, ace of the basketball team, frequently voted by his classmates as the handsomest boy in the school, and on his way to getting his doctorate.  A man who appreciated the simple things in life.  A man that loved me so much that he'd let go of all his dreams of playing basketball professionally or being a professor in a Canadian university just so that he could be with me.  That was why I loved him.  I loved his loyal heart, his gentleness, his carefully pursued ambitions, his way of thinking, his quirky habit of wandering off and disappearing in his own little world, the amount he loved me... and okay, yes, the sex was fantastic.

And for a second - a long second - I asked myself why I was throwing all that away for an idea of a glamorous life in Tokyo with a girl I hardly knew.  Why toss out this kind of love for something that was still floating in murky, unclear waters?

But when Aya's face came to mind, and I remembered the way she looked at me the previous night and that morning, it defeated all my senses and launched my feelings up to a whole different level.  Hiroshi was stable, Aya was not.  She was like a flame.  A flame that burned on and on, but that flickered constantly, leaving you guessing where it would jump to next.  She made me feel excited and invincible.  She filled me with hope, dreams, and optimism.  She filled me with the need to be beside her all the time.

"I love you, Hiroshi, but I need more.  So much more," I said softly.

Neither of use spoke.  The snow continued to fall, and I could almost hear each flake hitting various surfaces.

"So that's it for us?"

By the time Hiroshi spoke those words, the tops of our heads and shoulders were white with snow.

I nodded.

"That's it for us," I said with an air of finality.

He sighed.

"I just wish you hadn't told my parents that you had proposed to me.  They're going to worry now," I added in.

He looked up at me with a frown.

"I didn't tell them anything," he said.

Huh?

"But my dad-"

"Oh," Hiroshi interrupted me with his revelation.  "You thought he was... Okay.  No.  He was making a joke.  I never told him a thing."

That made me feel better.  Hiroshi was let off the hook.  He hadn't been trying to get my parents to force me to marry him.  It made everything a little bit better.

"Are you upset?" I asked.

"Do you even need to ask that?" he asked back in a sombre tone.  "Are you upset?"

I looked down.

"Yes," I said honestly.  "I'll miss you.  But I'm happy that I know what I want."

He tried to force a smile to come out, but it was gloomy.

"You're just going to quit school?"

There was definitely disapproval in his tone.  My silence told him that that was indeed my plan.

"Miki, if there's one last piece of advice I can give you as someone who loves you, it's to not quit altogether.  At least just take a semester off.  Ask them to hold your spot.  If you go to Tokyo and don't like it there, then you'll have something to come back to.  You're so smart, you know that?"

He reached out a hand and gently brushed the snow out of my hair, letting his fingers run through the dampened strands.

His advice made sense, but it seemed to dull the excitement of taking off for a new city and going in blindly with no safety net.

No, I would have a safety net.  Aya.  Nothing could go wrong if she was there.  That heightened my desire to drop school.

But I owed Hiroshi a lot, including comfort, reassurance, and trust.  I reached up and took his hand in mine, entwining my fingers with his and looking at him directly in the eyes with a soft smile.

"Thank you.  I can always trust your advice."

He put his hands on my shoulders, bent his head down, and without hesitation, he kissed me.  With our last kiss, I gave him everything that was his.  I sealed up my history with him, gave him the last ounce of love that I could, and said goodbye.

When he pulled back up, he wiped at his cheek hastily.  A tear had managed to work its way out of his eye.  Hiroshi.  A tough man on the courts.  A sensitive soul on snowy mountain paths.

"I'll go by your house and pick up my things later," he said quietly as if not to interrupt the concert the falling snow was putting on.

"You're not going to come now?" I asked with a frown.

He shook his head.

"I'm going to stay up here for a bit.  You go on ahead."

I gave him a concerned look, but he smiled.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything stupid," he said, touching my shoulder comfortingly.

I nodded, told him not to catch a cold, and then as if nothing heart-shattering had happened mere moments ago, I turned around and walked down the hill.

This was a pivotal moment in my life.  The era of Hiroshi had ended.  The era of Aya was about to begin.  When I finished walking this mountain path and entered my home, it would be time to talk to my parents and tell them about my plan to move.

So for the entire walk back home, I thought of Aya and pretended she was right beside me, holding my hand and giving me that unique strength of hers that warmed me up and made me indestructible.

With an image like that, there was no doubt in my mind that I was doing the right thing.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 02, 2007, 04:29:44 PM
*stretches and rolls out futon*
Yes. Lamely enough I stayed up to read the update. But it was worth it!
Im sorry I sound so psychotic. Please forgive me! My bizzare humour is lost on the internet
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on June 02, 2007, 05:24:26 PM
Nice Nice Nice~ can't wait for the next part! :w00t: :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 02, 2007, 06:55:51 PM
Eh, this Miki seems more stable than the one I'm used to... And I really like the idea of Aya being the seductress.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 02, 2007, 07:57:50 PM
I can't believe you did it again XD oh, wait.. I do.. It's you after all.. and I'm so glad you'r writing what happened with that alternate dimension. I was dying to know how that Miki was going to react the morning after. thank youuu :heart:

**edit**
thinking again... you're not going to kill one of them in the plane back to Tokyo right?  :frustrated:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 03, 2007, 01:07:58 AM
Quote
This picks up where Love x ∞ left off in the "other world" Aya was thrown into.  What if at that point, Aya returned to her own world, but another copy of her remained in the other world?  One answer to such a question, told from Miki's POV.
SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!! :rockon:


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I had cheated on my boyfriend, my almost-fiancé, with a famous idol.  Willingly.  And she was a girl.
The heart knows what it really wants. If Miki really did truly believe that she was meant to be with the BF, this wouldn't have happened.


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My parents.  Oh, my poor parents!  If they ever discovered what the precious baby of the family was secretly doing behind closed doors, they'd never forgive themselves (or their precious baby).  I'd be disowned, ridiculed, shamed, gossiped about, run out of town...
At least it would give her the chance to get out o fthat town, which, from what she had said previously, seemed to be something that she had wanted anyway.


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But wait.  I was being selfish.  What about Aya?  Her career would be destroyed.  Her life would be even more ruined than mine.  I was just some country daughter, but she was nation-wide famous.
And here we see why Aya and Miki just click when they're together. Miki might be panicky and surprised and have a crapload of adrenaline going through her right now, but even with that her thoughts are of Aya's well being and how HER life could be affected by what had happened.


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Maybe I could sneak out and just let her go back to Tokyo, pretending this had never happened.

That's what I decided to do.  I'd leave before she woke up.  It would be perfect.  Nobody would ever find out.  I'd tell my parents I'd stayed at a friend's house, and Aya could go back to Tokyo peacefully without having to exchange any awkward words and excuses with me.  We'd never have to meet again.

That's what I would do.
That could very well work, but Miki knows that she could never really forget this, nor would Aya.


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That struck me as an oddity because I still really loved him.  Very much.  He was a lot like me.  Normal, but with a hidden quirky streak (although he was much weirder).  Raised in a small town but yearning to break out of this enclosed life and strive for something more.  He'd tried to do that by going to university in Sapporo, but somehow we both knew that he'd wind up coming back here to this rundown town to live.
That last bit is what Miki is terrified of happening to her if she were to try and make it out on her own. She's scared that she either won't be able to cut it out there in the big city, or that she'll just get scared or intimidated and just return home in defeat.


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We'd be clinging onto each other because it would be the safe thing to do.  What we wanted, though, was to reach out and grab a bit of excitement, and we weren't able to provide that for each other.
You can't play it safe and still be able to "grab that bit of excitement". Miki does, in fact know this, and it looks like she's finally starting to accept that.


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"Bombs away!" I heard a little voice in a fighter plane yell as Aya's expression quickly sped from content to something closer to the opposite end of the spectrum.

"I'm sorry," she said quickly.  "I got a little carried away."
Aya, no doubt, is probably terrified that Miki might now hate/distrust her for what happened.


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The truth?  I knew.  Deep down inside, I knew.  I saw it in those eyes the night before.  Why she had made me - no, let me - stay over.  It was because she needed me.  She wanted me.  I didn't know how long she'd felt that way, but it was pretty obvious, especially after she'd almost uttered a confession during a very quiet moment we had shared.

...

I was looking at her, and she had a hand on my shoulder, running her thumb lightly over my skin.  A look came over her face and she took a breath to say something, but she never said it. 

...

But that look.  I knew that look.  I'd seen it before twice.  Once was when Hiroshi had uttered the words "I love you" for the first time.  The other time was when Hiroshi had asked me to marry him, which had just been the other day.

The sheer absurdity of the latter being Aya's reason to almost speak, I assumed it was the former.
Even after only "knowing" each other for 2 months, Miki can still read Aya and know what she thinks without having to hear her say it. She may not get it immediately at first, but she can still piece things together.


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"My first question still stands.  Why do you like me so much?"

"I can't explain it well without sounding crazy," she sighed, dropping the last vestiges of her guard.  "I just know you and your heart better than you think.  You complete something in me."
It doesn't sound crazy, not to me at least. It sounds like love. People in love can often sound like they're completely off their rocker. It's part of what makes the whole thing worth it.



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"Forget it all.  Just come with me.  We'll find you a job.  You can stay with me until then.  And we can... we can hang out."

Hang out?  She meant do this every night, right?
Would that be such a bad thing?  8)


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"You do what you want.  If you want to marry him, fine.  I'll be going back to Tokyo.  You can forget that this happened and I'll never bring it up again.  If you want to leave him and come with me, then we'll be in it together."

Why did she want me in her life so badly?  How could I have impressed her after two months of friendship?  Was I really that great?
Damn right you are.  :pimp:


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"What if you get bored of me?" I asked seriously.

It could happen.  The underlying reasons for her coming here could have been to find a distraction from the pressures at work.  Maybe she'd wanted to go somewhere that was familiar enough to her (within Japan) but far away enough from Tokyo so that she couldn't be traced as easily.  The trip would have been an outlet for her stress.  By finding some form of highly different entertainment - in this case, me - and amusing herself for a few months, she could work everything out of her system before going back and restarting her career.
Unfortunately, instances like that have been known to happen. Miki's just trying to protect herself from getting hurt.


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"You don't get it, do you," she giggled into said ear.  "We're meant to be together.  It's destined.  It's written in the stars.  It's not a question of getting bored of you."

"There's no such thing as destiny," I frowned, avoiding the issue for a moment.
Doesn't matter, to borrow a line from a well-admired and respected writer, they are "cooler than destiny".


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"But I can't leave this afternoon.  I'll need a few days."

I would have to pack, fill out forms to officially drop my classes, talk to my parents, talk to Hiroshi, buy a plane ticket...
The actual moving is easy, being able to leave your safety net...THAT's the hard part.



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One character dead = 10 chapters of fluff
That works for me. Considering that he's killed off BOTH Aya and Miki in his stories, that means he owes us 20 chapters of fluff!!!!  :w00t:


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My phone rang and mercifully pulled me away from my thoughts.  The message was from my mother.

Get home quickly!  There's a surprise for you.
Okay, either the BF has come home (no doubt wanting Miki's answer), and/or something else has happened which will make it harder for Miki to leave home.


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When I got home, there certainly was a surprise waiting for me.  It came in the form of a pair of old, but well-cared for sneakers.  They were very familiar to me, and when I saw them after opening the door, I tripped over my own feet and did a face plant on the floor in the entrance hall, alerting the whole family with a loud crash that their recently-turned-clumsy daughter was home.
Door number 1 it is. Man the shit's gonna fly.


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"Let's go," I said, reaching my hand out to him.

With a puzzled but easygoing look, Hiroshi took my hand.

"Where are we going?" he inquired.

"Out for a walk," I replied

...

"I need to talk to you seriously," I said, still holding his hand.

Hiroshi continued to look forward, but his hand squeezed mine in a comforting way.

"You can't marry me," he said.

...

He must've known from the moment he asked on Christmas Day.  The moment I said I needed to think about it.  And he'd been able to read me well enough just now to predict what I was going to talk about with him.
Granted, guys can be incredibly dense at times. However we do have moments of intuition now and then (often occurring at situations like this where we know we're going to get hurt).  We hope to death that we're wrong, but unfortunately our initial instincts are right on the nose.


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A few weeks after we'd started officially going out, Hiroshi had sat down with me and started a serious talk.

"If you're going to break my heart, just do it honestly," he had said to me.
That shows a strength of character to be able to have the guts to say that. Most guys don't like beating around the bush about most things anyway. Often, we prefer to be as direct as possible to avoid confusion as much as possible. However, the fact that he told her this about THIS...it shows that he indeed loves and respects her a whole lot. He doesn't want Miki to go trying to be "gentle" if she ever wanted to break up with him. He knows that's not her and that if she tried to do that it would probably just make the whole thing much harder for her than it needed to be.


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"And I'm moving to Tokyo," I added in a small voice.

This caused him to suck in a surprised breath of air and push me away to get a clear look at my face.

"What?" he asked in disbelief.
Now THIS he obviously wouldn't have been expecting. Even if they were no longer together as a couple, they could at least see each other around town and be friends. The problem with this is, this is yet another example of how he and Miki were using their relationship as a safety zone. He had figured that he'd always be able to see her in one way or another, and that gave him comfort.  To hear this must really scare him.  After all, to no longer be able to see someone that has been a part of your life for so long...  :cry:


Quote
I met someone - a friend - who opened my eyes to the world out there, so now I have to go and see it."

...

"I thought that having each other would be enough, you know?" he sighed.  "Even if we moved here and became shepherds, at least we'd be together.  We wouldn't need fancy things."
I really wanted to reply to this part, but I spent something like 10 min just staring at it...wondering what to actually say.   

As much as Miki is a homebody, she's also been a dreamer.  At some point in her life in this reality, she must have resigned herself to the fact that her dreams were unrealistic/impossible, and that she shouldn't bother with them anymore. It's again all about that little safety net that had been established in the relationship she and Hiroshi had, as well as in her day-to-day life in Takikawa.  She stopped reaching for her dreams because she was scared of falling (figuratively speaking) and getting hurt. Now she has another chance to try those new things with Aya, and at least this time, if Miki falls, there will be someone there who'll be with her and who will encourage her to keep trying. No offense meant to Hiroshi, but if he was there, he'd probably try and convince Miki to give it up and go back home, and that's not what she wants.


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This was Hiroshi, ace of the basketball team, frequently voted by his classmates as the handsomest boy in the school, and on his way to getting his doctorate.  A man who appreciated the simple things in life.  A man that loved me so much that he'd let go of all his dreams of playing basketball professionally or being a professor in a Canadian university just so that he could be with me.  That was why I loved him.
Sometimes, the nice guys CAN get the girl (though in this case, he doesn't keep her, sorry Hiroshi).

Nice touch with the Canadian University bit too, BTW.  :canada:


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I loved his loyal heart, his gentleness, his carefully pursued ambitions, his way of thinking, his quirky habit of wandering off and disappearing in his own little world, the amount he loved me... and okay, yes, the sex was fantastic.
Okay, I'll be honest. That last part, I didn't need to know. 


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"I just wish you hadn't told my parents that you had proposed to me.  They're going to worry now," I added in.

He looked up at me with a frown.

"I didn't tell them anything," he said.

Huh?
He didn't??? :O


Quote
"But my dad-"

"Oh," Hiroshi interrupted me with his revelation.  "You thought he was... Okay.  No.  He was making a joke.  I never told him a thing."
Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan...aren't parents incredibly annoying when they do that? 


Quote
"You're just going to quit school?"

There was definitely disapproval in his tone.  My silence told him that that was indeed my plan.

"Miki, if there's one last piece of advice I can give you as someone who loves you, it's to not quit altogether.  At least just take a semester off.  Ask them to hold your spot.  If you go to Tokyo and don't like it there, then you'll have something to come back to.  You're so smart, you know that?"
Not to sound like a broken record, but again, this is another example of that "safety net" that Miki has to get away from if she's really going to start reaching out and trying new things. What Hiroshi is saying is by no means unreasonable. In many ways it would definitely be practical and the smart thing to do.  In most situations, having something to fall back on can be a good thing. However in this case it isn't, because in this case Miki would again be giving up like she did before.   To live with no regrets, she needs to completely walk away, she needs to take those steps completely on her own.


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A tough man on the courts.  A sensitive soul on snowy mountain paths.
Hey girls, that's a good thing, right?


Quote
This was a pivotal moment in my life.  The era of Hiroshi had ended.  The era of Aya was about to begin.
No, not the era of Aya. It's the era of Miki that we're talking about here.  Sure she's doing this because she wants to be with Aya, but that's only a part of it. Above it all (or beneath it all, depending on how you like to express it), Miki's doing this for Miki. It's something that she's wanted to do for a long time, but up until now didn't have the courage to actually do. Aya just helped bring that courage forward, and now Miki's using it.


Quote
When I finished walking this mountain path and entered my home, it would be time to talk to my parents and tell them about my plan to move.
The shit's really going to fly here.  As Miki herself has stated, she's the baby of the family and it will be hard for her parents (as it naturally would be) to come to terms with her wanting to go.  They won't be as calm as Hiroshi, that's for sure, but hopefully they'll understand like he did.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 03, 2007, 02:22:43 AM
Mikan, I thought it was funny.  But there's just no way I could give you fluff for each character killed.  I mean, in Aya's plane crash alone, there would have been about 250 people involved, and 250 x 10 = a number of fluffy chapters that I do not want to write.

In other words: Shiba-chan, you're safe for now.

I also like Aya in the role of seductress.  Never mind wine and sexy lingerie.  All you need is Aya being Aya.

Len.chan, in this case, I think I'll give away a tiny bit of what will happen: Nobody is going to die on/in/beside/under/because of a plane.  I think it's safe to say that Aya and Miki will both be alive to have more conversations in later chapters.  Hahaha!
 
Doesn't matter, to borrow a line from a well-admired and respected writer, they are "cooler than destiny".
:lol: :oops:
Quote
After all, to no longer be able to see someone that has been a part of your life for so long...  :cry:
This is where I feel very sorry for Hiroshi.  Hah, I need to write a happy ending for him one day.  One that doesn't end with him as a Catholic priest in Rome after the death of his sister.

Quote
No, not the era of Aya. It's the era of Miki that we're talking about here.  Sure she's doing this because she wants to be with Aya, but that's only a part of it. Above it all (or beneath it all, depending on how you like to express it), Miki's doing this for Miki.
You're absolutely right.  Thank you for pointing that out.  Miki's her own, strong person.  She looks out for the people she cares about, but she also looks out for herself.

Amarghetta points out that Miki is more stable in this story/universe, and yes, that's true.  Maybe in the other world where she had gone to Tokyo and become disillusioned after being bounced around by UFA, she wouldn't have done something drastic like this (a complete life change) for herself.  She would have thought that it was only worth doing if it was for Aya or someone else.  She went off on her own at a young age, and while she initially had the confidence and the self-esteem, she was screwed over and lost it.  Being at a more impressionable age, it had more of an effect on her.  Aya helped pull her out of that well, but it took time.  And when she lost Aya, things just got very very bad for her.

But in this world, she's lived with good people like her parents, Baachan, and Hiroshi, who have treated her with love and respect.  She has a more developed sense of self-worth because of it.  She may have lost some great opportunities (missing the Morning Musume audition, missing her university entrance exam the first few times), but she wasn't toyed around with in the rest of her life.  Or at least she didn't receive more than the "normal" amount of curve balls life throws at us (nobody's got a spotlessly perfect life, after all).

...I kind of forgot where I was going with this... but thanks, guys, for making me think, and sorry to kind of chatter incoherently about it.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on June 03, 2007, 02:45:14 AM
Oooh, nice! I'm glad that you continued this, especially in Miki's POV. Her character definitely is different from what we are used to reading. Of course, this is Takikawa country bumpkin Miki, not Tokyo idol Miki. Also, it's strange to see her being so submissive, but we all know that Aya is a . . . nice girl. Haha.

I was expecting Hiroshi's reaction to be sensible. He's definitely shocked, but he's a great guy. I find it sweet that he wants to be her "safety net", although she has already stated that Aya will be just that. Still, he really does care, but I think that whenever childhood friends or highschool sweethearts get married, they're stuck in a boring rut. It's the same, old thing, I guess. Some might say that Miki is making a selfish decision, but we all know that Miki (in this story specifically) has a wild taste for adventure. This could be good for her, and it could help her grow as a person.

Oh, and there's also the simple fact that she and Aya are soulmates. :heart:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: iacus on June 03, 2007, 08:45:12 AM
This is where I feel very sorry for Hiroshi.  Hah, I need to write a happy ending for him one day.  One that doesn't end with him as a Catholic priest in Rome after the death of his sister.

Dude! I totally missed that! Now I have to go back and read that whole story again...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 04, 2007, 12:49:50 PM
Damn, I always wondered about Miki's side!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 04, 2007, 03:56:42 PM
Iacus, it's just a small bit in My Own Private Funeral.  Alternate universe-type stuff.
Yeah, black velvet.  Aya's a "nice girl."  Hahahaha.

Chapter 3

When I got home, my parents were eating lunch.

"Miki-chan, Hiroshi-kun," my mother sang out when she heard me open the door.  "Dad bought some of that delicious bread from the bakery at the supermarket.  Come and have some."

For a moment - just a moment - I was happy again.  So my dad had bought that bread.  But my heart fell again because I had to explain why Hiroshi wasn't with me.

I popped into the room and looked at my parents.  They looked up at me.  My mother smiled and glanced behind to me to look for Hiroshi.

"Mom, dad," I greeted them, walking into the room and sitting on the opposite side of the table, putting lots of space between us.

They came to realise that something serious was going on and that Hiroshi wouldn't be joining us for the conversation.

"I know this is rather sudden," I said, taking a deep breath, "but I've decided to move out."

In the silence that followed, you could have heard a pin drop all the way in the Swiss Alps.

"With Hiroshi-kun?" my mother asked, expecting me to answer in the affirmative.

"No."

More silence.

"And where do you intend to move?" my father asked.

"Tokyo," I said bravely.

I didn't feel brave.  I felt like I would crumble the minute my parents raised their objections.

"What will you do in Tokyo?"

My father again.  His voice was far too calm and controlled.  I could tell that there was a storm gathering, and it was ready to unleash its power.

"I'm going to work."

Silence.

No need to ask what kind of work I was going to look for because it was obvious I had no idea.

"Did that friend of yours put ideas in your head?" my mom asked.

So it was that easy to tell that Aya had been involved?  I almost broke my eye contact with my mom, but doing so would have weakened my position.  I steadfastly kept my gaze on her.

"Aya-chan helped open up my eyes," I confirmed, "but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time."

That was the breaking point.

"You can't leave now," my father said, voice like a razor-sharp knife.  "You're starting your last term of the year at school.  You have a job, too, and responsibilities-"

"I don't care about school!" I exploded.

My father jumped to his feet and looked across the table and down at me furiously.

"Don't go throwing that kind of attitude around in this house!" he thundered.  "Nobody in this family is a quitter.  Nobody runs away from their duties.  You can't go and make a selfish decision like that and spring it upon us expecting our full support!"

I had never seen my father so angry.  He had never yelled at me like that before.  Such fury.  I tried not to tremble in fear as my mother stood up to pacify my father.  Her face showed, though, that she sided more with him than with me.

But wait.  Me?  A quitter?  Here I was about to embark on an exciting and difficult journey, and he was calling me a quitter?

I jumped up to my feet, and what could possibly be called the fiercest Fujimoto family feud began.

"I'm not a quitter, Dad.  I'm going down there to follow my dream," I said harshly.

"Miki, you can't just drop school.  That's quitting," said my mother in a firm tone.

I trained my eyes on her.

"No, Mom.  That's not quitting.  Quitting would be if I stayed in school," I bit back.  "If I stayed when every centimetre of me wanted to move out and pursue my own life.  Do you think I want to be a bookkeeper?"

I pierced my father with a glare.

"I've hated studying economics at school.  I've found it a waste of my time.  I've only been doing it because I lacked the motivation to get out of here.  I've been too scared to leave this safe place."

My father's face grew red.

"How dare you throw our kindness back in our faces like that.  We've given you everything and provided you with a safe and comfortable environment in which to grow up.  You're an ungrateful, spoiled child."

That hurt.  I wanted to scream at him, but I kept a tight rein on my temper before I said something that would get me disowned by my family.

"I do appreciate everything you've done for me," I said through grit teeth.  "I've had a wonderful life.  But it's time to move on and grow up.  Start my own life."

I wasn't sure if my words had had any effect, because my mother changed the subject.

"You're going to let some wild, famous girl convince you to do away with this good life?"

Wild and famous?  I had thought that she liked Aya.

"Aya-chan is not wild," I said in a controlled voice.  "And she only let me see what's out there.  She didn't force me into anything."

There was a pause in the air as everyone tried to think of something new to say.  I took advantage of it and broke the silence.

"And besides, what happened to you two supporting my dreams, huh?" I asked, the heat coming back to my voice.  "You were going to let me go that audition all those years ago.  If I'd made it, you would've let me move to Tokyo."

My parents both looked chagrined, and I knew that I'd hit upon a good argument.

"I was in school back then, too.  You would have let me leave.  The way I see it, you're just upset now because it has to do with money and convenience.  We pay for university classes.  It's convenient that Inaba-Baachan has known me for years and thus trusts me with handling the till at the restaurant.  It's a good thing for you two that your youngest daughter is studying bookkeeping so that she can take over the family business one day," I continued.  "What happened to my supportive parents who helped me fill out my audition applications?  My parents who let me practice in front of them?  Who nursed me back to health after that stupid flu, and who assured me that my chance would come again?  Did you forget all about that?  Your promise to support me unconditionally?  Were they just empty words?"

I was on a roll.  Nothing could stop me.  Years of bottled up dissatisfaction came pouring out of me.

My parents stood silently, my father with a disturbed look etched into his face, my mother looking blank and maybe a little pale.

"I can't believe I live with a couple of hypocrites.  I've just told you that I'm miserable with my life and what do you do?  On the surface you tell me you want me to be happy, but in reality, you chew me out and tell me I can't get out of my situation.  You try to play on some sort of guilt I should feel because you raised me well.  But I want to leave."

They certainly looked chastised.  My mother's eyes showed a little shock.  My father's concerned expression had deepened.

"If that's the way it's going to be, then I definitely don't want to stay here.  I'm moving.  You don't have to support me in any way.  I'll find a job and pay you back for everything you've ever done for me."

I fixed my father with a chilly look, and after a few seconds, I shifted my gaze to my mother.

"I don't see how my departure will affect anyone in the long run.  I've broken things off with Hiroshi-kun, and other than him, I don't think any of my other friends are going to be very heart-broken about my leaving.  I'll be out of your hair in a few days."

With that, I turned on my heels and walked calmly out of the living room and up the stairs.

Once in the privacy of my bedroom, I sat down on my bed and let out a breath of disbelief.  I reached up to fix my hair, but my hands shook uselessly.  I sat on them, a habit I'd had when I was young and got nervous easily, and tried to formulate a plan.

I had told my parents off and angered them.  I couldn't count on them for any support.

Next, I had to call the registrar's office at my university.  The only problem was that I'd have to wait because it was a holiday.  Nobody would be in until after the New Year vacation.  I couldn't stay here and wait that long.  I decided I would call from Tokyo.  Long distance charges be damned.

Next on my list?  I needed a plane ticket.  Or a shinkansen ticket.  Or a boat ticket.  Any way to get south of here.  I'd take care of that in the afternoon.  Luckily, I had a stack of money with me, so no holiday bank closures could stand in my way.

Next?  Baachan.  I had to go and explain things to her.  I'd do that after securing transportation.

And then?  Packing.  I could start that now.  I needed to calm down before going to the travel agency.  Moving around and sorting through clothing would help.

I sat on my bed for half an hour, trying to gather the strength to stand up and start packing.

When I finally did stand up, it was on surprisingly strong legs that did not shake.  I went to my closet to find an appropriate suitcase or bag.  It was then when I heard a knock at my door.

It could only be one of two people.  I didn't want to argue anymore.  I just wanted them to leave me alone so that I could get my affairs in order and leave.

"I'm coming in," my mother announced, and she opened the door before I could object.

She walked in carrying a large bag.  I would have almost called it a sports bag, but it was a little more refined.  Classier.  She put it down in the middle of the room.

"I thought you might need a big enough bag for all your things," she said quietly.

I looked at her, keeping my expression neutral while my insides churned with disbelief.  I didn't say anything.

"If you want to leave, that's your decision.  I didn't realise we were holding you back and that you were so unhappy."

I started to feel bad because I hadn't been unhappy about everything.  Just certain things.  Important things.

"But I want you to know that the reason why we want you to stay is not because of money or convenience.  It's because we love you and worry that you won't be able to take care of yourself.  You seem to be going into this blindly and with high ambitions.  Tokyo life is tough.  Do you realise that?"

I sat down on my bed and looked up at my mother.  She didn't look angry anymore.  Her face was lined with anxiety.

"I'm not going blindly, Mom," I assured her, but she looked sceptical.  "I'll have Aya-chan to help me out.  She's letting me stay with her until I can find my own place to live."

This only made my mother give me a disapproving look.

"I don't want you to be a burden to other people.  Aya-chan's a kind girl, and I really like her a lot, but she's busy.  You know that.  She lives in a different world than the rest of us."

I balled my fists up.

"No she doesn't.  She's just like me.  Like us.  Why don't you give people a chance?" I snapped defensively.  "Just because she's a celebrity, it doesn't make her inhuman.  She has feelings too, you know."

Aya would have been proud.  I was fighting on her behalf.  My mother, much to my surprise, laughed.

"Oh my.  We've raised you so well that you've gone and out-moralised your own mother.  Must be my old age."

I unclenched my fists.

"You're right, Miki-chan.  I shouldn't judge like that."

My mother was a stubborn woman, but a smart one.  She knew when to admit she was wrong.  At least when it came to family members.

"It's okay.  It's natural to think that at first," I mumbled.

Even I had been guilty of that.  When I'd first seen Aya at the restaurant, my first thought had been "What's a top rate idol doing at my restaurant in Takikawa?"  But ever since she'd burst out with a plea to not think like that, I'd smartened up and done as she'd asked.

My mother came over and sat beside me on my bed.

"But still.  You can't impose on her forever.  And do you know how expensive it is to find a place to live?  A decent place?"

"She said she doesn't mind how long I stay," I insisted.

I was certain I could stay for a year and she'd love it.  I thought that she got a kick out of dominating me like she had the night before and then seeing me be all squeamish about it the next morning.

My mother still looked unconvinced.

Oh well.  Let her just assume Aya's just being polite on the outside.  I know for a fact that she means it.  Mom doesn't have to know the truth about last night.

"Anyway, Dad wants to apologise, too," my mom said.

"Eh?" I exclaimed with a frown.  "I thought he wanted to hurl me into the river."

"He got so angry because he loves you.  You're his little girl.  His favourite little baby.  You really gave him a shock."

Oh, Dad...

My heart ached just a little bit in advance.  Out of my whole family, I'd probably only really miss having my dad around the most.

"He's forgiven," I said quietly, and I looked up at my mother.  "I know you two want to protect me, but you have to let me go.  I'll be okay."

My mom smiled and ran a hand through my hair (everyone was doing that to me lately!).

"I know, Miki-chan."

We sat like that for a moment until my mother spoke again.

"Do you need any money?"

I squirmed.  I could use anything I could get, but I wasn't about to ask for it.  Talk about bad luck starting a period of independence by begging for a loan.

"No, I'm okay," I said with a persuasive smile.

"If you ever need anything, just call."

I nodded.

"When are you leaving?"

She didn't even try to mask her fear.  Or if she did, it didn't work.  I could read her perfectly.

"As soon as possible," I said softly as to not offend her.  "I'm going to JTB today to enquire about airfare."

My mother looked like she was about to say something important, but she exhaled and cut it off, starting in a different vein.

"If you need help packing, let me know."

And then she was gone, out of my room as though carried away by a strong gust of wind.  Such was the abrupt nature of the Fujimoto family.

I sighed and picked up the pseudo-sports bag.  It would do.  It was big enough for the essentials.  I'd have to buy a new wardrobe in Tokyo anyway.

Or borrow Aya's clothing, I thought slyly.

If she let me take off her clothes, I'm sure that meant we were close enough to wear each other's clothing on a regular basis.

For a moment, I pushed my parents out of my mind and I focused on starting to pack my things up.  I didn't even know when I'd leave, but I needed to do something to make it all feel more real.

I was single again.  I was going to drop school.  I was going to move to Tokyo.  I was going to live with a girl I'd met two months ago.

Life certainly did have the habit of throwing the oddest things out at the strangest times. 

This time, I was going to seize it and never let go, because suddenly my life had meaning.  Worth.  A purpose.  Thanks to Aya, I was finally going to start living.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 04, 2007, 07:24:36 PM
Quote
"I know this is rather sudden," I said, taking a deep breath, "but I've decided to move out."

In the silence that followed, you could have heard a pin drop all the way in the Swiss Alps.
Silence is scary. You don't know what people are thinking or how they'll react if they silent.  At least if they spaz out you have an idea of where they (and you) stand.


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"With Hiroshi-kun?" my mother asked, expecting me to answer in the affirmative.

"No."

More silence.
It seems somewhat natural that they might be expecting this, considering how long Miki and Hiroshi had been going out, it would seem like a pretty logical step.


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"And where do you intend to move?" my father asked.

"Tokyo," I said bravely.

...


"What will you do in Tokyo?"

My father again.  His voice was far too calm and controlled.  I could tell that there was a storm gathering, and it was ready to unleash its power.

...

"Did that friend of yours put ideas in your head?" my mom asked.
Miki's parents would have obviously been more receptive if she declared she would be moving in with Hiroshi, simply because of the fact that they know and trust him.  It, unfortunately, is another of being reliant on having a "safety net". 


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"Aya-chan helped open up my eyes," I confirmed, "but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time."

That was the breaking point.

"You can't leave now," my father said, voice like a razor-sharp knife.  "You're starting your last term of the year at school.  You have a job, too, and responsibilities-"
While his voice sounds angry (and he naturally is, at the moment), his outburst is more out of parental concern and fear for the well-being of his daughter. Every parent wants their child to be able to support themselves and to have a secure life. Right now, from the few, little bits that Miki's parents have heard, all that's in their minds right now is the fear that Miki will have a difficult life if she moves away so suddenly.



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"I'm not a quitter, Dad.  I'm going down there to follow my dream," I said harshly.

"Miki, you can't just drop school.  That's quitting," said my mother in a firm tone.

I trained my eyes on her.

"No, Mom.  That's not quitting.  Quitting would be if I stayed in school," I bit back.  "If I stayed when every centimetre of me wanted to move out and pursue my own life.  Do you think I want to be a bookkeeper?"
Now here Miki is truly being honest with her parents.  Up until this point, she had continued with her studies (as well as stayed in Hokkaido) out of a sense of obligation to her parents. She doesn't want to disappoint them (which is understandable), yet at the same time she knows that she will because she's finally chosing to do something for herself rather than for someone else.  Unfortunately, her parents are bound to see that as her "being selfish".  And when you look at it, they're right, she IS being selfish.  However there are times when one NEEDS to be selfish. If Miki continues/finishes her studies, sure she may get a fairly steady job, but she'll be miserable. Moving to Tokyo is a big risk, but she's willing to take that chance if it gives her the chance to have a life where she can be happy.


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"And besides, what happened to you two supporting my dreams, huh?" I asked, the heat coming back to my voice.  "You were going to let me go that audition all those years ago.  If I'd made it, you would've let me move to Tokyo."
Miki brings up an excellent point here.  The only difference between her wanting to go to the auditions back then and wanting to go to Tokyo now is her age. Everything else that matters is pretty much the same.


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"But I want you to know that the reason why we want you to stay is not because of money or convenience.  It's because we love you and worry that you won't be able to take care of yourself.  You seem to be going into this blindly and with high ambitions.  Tokyo life is tough.  Do you realise that?"
And here we see and hear the TRUE reasons for Miki's parents reacting the way they did. More importantly, Miki now has heard them.  In the back of her head she probably knew that this was why they objected so strongly, but it's still better to hear the actual words being spoken.


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"Anyway, Dad wants to apologise, too," my mom said.

"Eh?" I exclaimed with a frown.  "I thought he wanted to hurl me into the river."

"He got so angry because he loves you.  You're his little girl.  His favourite little baby.  You really gave him a shock."
Yeah, it's a typical dad reaction. 


Quote
I'd have to buy a new wardrobe in Tokyo anyway.

Or borrow Aya's clothing, I thought slyly.

If she let me take off her clothes, I'm sure that meant we were close enough to wear each other's clothing on a regular basis.
Kickass.  :twisted:


Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 04, 2007, 07:56:48 PM
Quote
If she let me take off her clothes, I'm sure that meant we were close enough to wear each other's clothing on a regular basis.

best psychology ever XDD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 04, 2007, 11:03:54 PM
Go Miki, fight for Aya! Love is awesome.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 05, 2007, 12:27:43 PM
Love is awesome.  But OTN-style AM love is a bit bumpy.  Ah, c'est la vie.

Again, music set the mood for me.

Chapter 4

Plane ticket - check.

Baachan - check (but have to pick up last pay cheque tomorrow afternoon).

Parents - check and check.

Rest of family - check.

Hiroshi - check point five (one more talk).

School - x (call next week).

Aya - x (check e-mail now).

My mental checklist looked good.  Much better, in fact, than I ever thought it could.  Several things had been accomplished in the space of half a day: I had gone to the travel agency and booked myself a plane ticket for - and I couldn't believe it - the afternoon of the first of January; I had gone to Baachan's and gotten her enthusiastic blessings for my journey (old people were so grand that way); I had made peace with my parents after a reasonably long and calm talk with them (more like I listened to my dad lecture on and on about Tokyo being dangerous for a girl on her own and what kind of men to look out for); and Hiroshi had come back from his solo mountain hike.  It was decided that he would stay the night since it was late and he'd come all the way to visit.  My mother was the one who insisted on his staying, and I knew that some part of her was scheming to get us back together.  But no matter.  He would sleep in a different room, and I was resolute in my decision to end things with him.

All that was left to do that day was to get in touch with Aya.  I had e-mailed her earlier, but I had gotten no response yet.

Late that evening, we finished a delicious dinner.  My parents were washing dishes together (my dad actually did help with the housework), and Hiroshi was in the bath ("Guests first," said my mom).  I was in my room with my phone.  I had still not received a reply from Aya.  I was gripped with an icy and ridiculous fear that the things she'd said hadn't been heartfelt and that it had all been a bout of temporary insanity that had made her say and do the things she had.  Maybe she'd said them to get rid of me.  Maybe she-

My phone started ringing.  As I was receiving mail, I all but tore the screen off flipping it open to read.

I sighed with relief.  It was from Aya.  Her flight had been delayed and her phone's battery had died.  She'd just gotten home that minute.  She'd read my mail about my flight, and she said that it sucked that we couldn't spend New Year's Eve together.  I blushed at the thought of spending such a family-oriented holiday with her.  She also wrote that she missed me, which made me bury my face into my pillow and squeal in giddiness and mortification.  I quickly stopped that and composed myself.  Acting like a fifteen year old girl with a massive crush on Kimutaku was probably not an attractive quality on me.  So "un" Fujimoto.

I wrote back and, while sucking in a big breath of air and clenching my jaw out of embarrassment, said that I missed her, too, and that at least we could celebrate the first day of the brand new year together.  I said good night, and that was that.

It took so little to make me feel so happy.  So excited about the future.

I lounged around until Hiroshi got out of the bath.  I took mine and then got into my pyjamas, ready to hit the sack a little earlier than usual.  I was about to slip under the covers when I had a change of heart.  I padded out of my room and made the trek over to the guest room Hiroshi was staying in.  I knocked, asking if I could come in.

"Yeah," Hiroshi called out.

I walked in and saw him sitting on the bed playing a video game.  He looked up as if he had to check who I was and then quickly paused the game, putting it down and giving me his full attention.

One of the reasons why I liked him.  A guy who would pause his precious video game for me?  A winner.

When he looked at me, though, his eyes were still full of love.  Maybe a bit of hope, too.  Hope that I'd take him back.  I felt sorry for him because he had to be around me and not act like we had up until that very day.  If he really was uncomfortable, though, he could have left.  There were several polite ways to decline an invitation.

"Playing games, huh?" I asked in a mock-scolding voice.

He grinned like a little boy.

"I remember a certain someone who came over to my place last summer and wouldn't let go of the game controller for two days straight."

I scoffed at him, but then laughed and sat beside him on the bed.

"Thanks for being so understanding, Hiro-kun," I said, shifting gears and expressing what I'd come by to express.

He looked down at his knees.

"As long as you're happy, I can't complain.  Just... whoever he is, be careful."

I tried not to react too much to that because it was so much more complicated than I cared to explain.  I sighed

"I'm not leaving you for someone else.  I'm doing it for me.  And you.  You can do better than little old me," I said in a light tone.

He looked up at me, eyes wide with longing.

"But all I want is you."

I shook my head.

"I'm sorry."

He looked back down and then up again (I was getting dizzy watching him), a silly smirk gracing his face.

"I know you hate weak men, Micchan," he said.  "I'll stop with that whiney crap."

"Stupid," I said, bonking him on the forehead.  "I know you're strong.  It's okay for you to have feelings."

He grinned back at me, and it felt like old times when we'd sit around and flirt harmlessly.  Only now, it didn't mean the same thing.  It would lead to nowhere.

Out of habit, I fixed his bangs, which I had displaced with my scolding tap.  I stroked the soft strands of slightly damp hair gently back into place and then took my hand away.

"You're a good man, Hiro-kun," I said in a moment of pure, unguarded honesty.  "Keep being good."

We shared a smile, and for a moment I thought that he was going to lean in and kiss me.  But he knew we were over.  He knew he'd upset me if he did anything.  I could see him restrain himself.  Very admirable.  But also fearful.  He knew I could throw quite a punch when I wanted to.

I stood up and walked to the door.

"Good night, Hiro-kun."

"Good night, Micchan."

I left.

Closure.

I sighed in relief.

I got into bed and checked my messages one last time.  Aya had written back to me while I'd been off chatting with Hiroshi.

Love you and good night!

Added on the next line were musical notes, a smiley face, and a heart.

I snapped my phone shut and turned the light out to try and lower the temperature of my face.

What a girl.

I had never expected in a million years that she could feel something like that about me.  It never would have occurred to me in the past two months we'd been hanging out.

Well, okay, no.  I admit that sometimes I wondered why she acted so familiarly with me, but I really had no proper inkling of her true feelings.  I chalked it all up to her friendly personality.  Not until last night had I had any real idea how strongly she cared for me.

I lay back and tried to remember every detail of the previous night.

I started to cry when we got to her hotel room.  It was something I hadn't done in front of another person for years.  But I desperately wanted her to stay.  My life became exciting because of her.

To try and let her know how truly grateful I was to her for being my friend, I reached out and hugged her.  She stood there stiffly for a moment, during which I was filled with the fear that maybe I'd been too presumptuous as to get close to her when she didn't want to have a friendship like that.  Maybe I'd crossed some sort of line that I didn't know was there.

But then she relaxed completely and hugged me back.

"Don't worry.  I'll visit again."

Liar, I thought through my tears.

I forced myself to stop crying, though, because it was humiliating.  Even in front of Aya, who I'd grown to trust more than some of the people I'd been friends with since elementary school, I couldn't stand being so weak.

I sensed something in that quiet moment, and before I knew it, she kissed me.  It was like a blunder.  One of things you couldn't help.  There was a tear on my lip, and she simply wiped it away with her own lips. 

But to me, it felt like more.  The way she did it was so full of adoration that it initiated some sort of urge in me.  Suddenly, I wanted her to do it again.  And I wanted to do it back.  I just wanted to stand there and hold her and maybe kiss her so that I wouldn't have to lose her so quickly.  Maybe by doing so, our friendship would deepen.  I didn't really understand, but it seemed exciting to me.  It felt right because it was different.  And she cared.  I could tell from that moment when our faces were so close together and her warmth became mine and vice versa.  It was something I had never felt, not even from Hiroshi.  It confused me, but made me happy.

I felt this overwhelming need radiating from her in that split second after she did what she did, but she controlled herself and forced me away from her.  She pushed a speechless me out the door.  I was about to allow myself to be shut out because I was in such shock, when my brain snapped.

This was what I wanted.  This moment and this situation.  I needed someone who understood me.  Aya was the only one who knew how I didn't like the direction in which my life was headed.  She knew I needed excitement, and she understood and supported me.

So I stopped her from closing the door.

"You know, I've never tried that before..." I propositioned her indirectly.

She snapped back without taking the bait, so I dug into her.  I got angry.  How dare she start something like that - give me the tiniest, briefest taste of excitement - and then yank it all away?  I wanted to see where she wanted to take that slip of the lips.

It seemed as though I angered her with my words, but quite the opposite turned out to be true.  She grabbed at me with needy hands, pulled me back into her apartment, and shoved me hard against the wall

They say there is a fine line between love and hate.  For a moment, I believed that the same was true for beating someone up and sex.  The way she dove into things with me was a shock to my system.  She seemed so desperate that she was almost rough with me, and she went much further than I thought she would ever have had the mind to.

But letting her take the lead, I grew courageous, and whatever desperation she felt was transferred to me through her kisses.

She seemed to know me so well.  Maybe even better than Hiroshi did.  She teased me.  Every minute we went at it, she would dangle something in front of me and laugh at how I couldn't get it.  She'd push and push and then retreat a bit, push some more, and then pull back.  It infuriated me in a completely animal way, and a primal side of me that I'd never known about came out to play.  I didn't even know what I was doing.  I had never even touched a girl like this before.

Well, actually, I was kissed by one once when I was in my second year of high school, but we were at a party and she was drunk.  She threatened to take off all her clothes in a room full of twenty-five boys and girls unless she got to kiss every single person in the room.  We figured letting her kiss each of us was the best thing, since she was a notoriously rowdy drunk who liked to run around outside.  Being completely naked while doing so would attract much more attention.  Small towns were not good for this sort of thing.

But it was time to stop reminiscing about my high school days while I was being... attacked.

The more she pushed me, the more I reciprocated.  We probably generated enough energy to heat all of Siberia for the entire month of January.

It had been a long, exhausting day.  I'd done school work in the morning, driven my sister to the hospital, and then gone immediately to work.  After work, I'd had to pick my sister back up, drop her off at her house, and then go on a hike with Aya to look at the night sky, where she dropped her bomb - she was leaving in less than twelve hours.  After that emotionally draining event, we'd gone back to her hotel room, talked, and then suddenly ended up in bed.

It grew very late - or rather early in the morning - and I could barely hold myself up anymore.  Aya was merciful, and she let me go to sleep.  As I lay there, drowning in waves of bliss and exhaustion, I felt her hand on my back.  I made a sound to acknowledge it.  She then drew a shape on my back.  A heart.  I groaned out loud, trying to tell her that it tickled and that I was too drained, my nerves too frayed, to deal with more of her teasing.  She put her hand flat on the left side of my back.  She was feeling for my heartbeat.  She wanted to feel the thing that was keeping me alive, pumping warm blood through my body.  Blood that she had just lit on fire.

It was a loving gesture that I would never forget.  Even if the next day we woke up and awkwardly parted with regret coursing through our veins, that one gesture would still mean something.  Millions of words.  She cared. 

I tried to mumble something, but I was far too sleepy to even take a deep enough breath.  I fell asleep while hoping beyond hope that this all meant something.


The memories were vivid in my mind.  As I recalled them, I started to feel the pressing need to see her.  To repeat last night.  This desire built up in me, and I started to fidget. 

What could I do?  She was almost one thousand kilometres away from me.  I held my breath, counted to twenty, and let it go.  I took another deep breath, and then counted to fifteen before letting that one go, too.  I forced myself to be still, and I took deep, calming breaths in an attempt to put myself to sleep.

It worked eventually, and my dream... was lurid.

In it, I got out of my bed.  I could sense with that mysterious sixth sense in dreams that Aya was nearby.

It was the dead of night and the neighbourhood was asleep.  Not a creature was stirring.  Not even a sheep.

I left the room and tiptoed past my parents' bedroom, slipping through the next door.  My sister's old room.  In the bed, basking in the moonlight that peeked in brightly through the thin curtains covering the window, was Aya, her skin looking smooth and inviting in the pale light.  I walked quietly and stood over the bed, studying her.

I reached out a hand and touched her cheek.  Her eyes opened slowly.  She smiled at me.  I looked down, serious, desperate.

"One more time," I whispered softly.

I demanded.

She looked surprised.

"Now?  You sure?"

I didn't reply.  She'd heard me.  I got onto the bed on my hands and knees and hovered over her.  I slowly lowered my face to hers.  Soon, we were clawing at each other's pyjamas, and I recall thinking in my dream that she looked so cute in pyjamas that it almost saddened me to take them off of her.  Almost.

But as we undressed in order to touch as much skin as possible, something about her felt different.  Familiar, but different.  The handful of X-rated dreams I'd had in my life paled in comparison to this one.  This one felt real.  Like she was actually there underneath me, doing things that made me shudder and gasp out mindless phrases.  Uttering them quietly, softly, muffling my sounds in her neck.  My parents were right next door, and in my dream, it was just as important as in real life not to subject them to play-by-plays of my sex life.

"Miki, I..." she whispered into my ear.

The chills I felt were not because of her warm breath hitting and tickling my ear, but because she sounded different.

I tried to pull back a bit, but things were spiralling forward, and I couldn't stop them.  Part of me pulled back, but part of me needed that release that was so near.  So I kept going.

Then two things happened.

One was that I felt impossibly good.  The other was that I felt the world come to a disastrous end.

The moment I was about to gasp out something - maybe her name, but most likely miscellaneous nonsense - I woke up.

The moment I opened my eyes and looked down, I realised that Aya was nowhere to be found.  I was not on top of her.  Instead, the person I was clutching to me as waves of ecstasy crashed through my body was Hiroshi.

The breath left my body, leaving me numb, unable to move.  He didn't seem to notice as he kissed me and then pushed me onto my back, continuing to move above me and then eventually muffling his own groan in the pillow under my head.  He fell (carefully) on top of me, both of us breathing hard, sweating, trembling.

He rolled off to the side and caught his breath while I lay there, stone still, trying to catch my own breath and figure out what was happening.

I was awake and in bed with Hiroshi.  Once again.

But I hadn't meant to come here.  I had been dreaming.  And not even about him!

What have I done? I thought in fear.

For the second day in a row, I cried in front of someone.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 05, 2007, 12:38:43 PM
If Miki gets pregnant then thats just gonna rock my socks.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on June 05, 2007, 05:45:15 PM
oh fuck!
i think i should stop reading this while i still think it won't make me cry...

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO DO THIS TO ME? :cry:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 05, 2007, 05:58:49 PM
ok... so now Miki would feel guilty 'cause she betrayed Aya someway and will stay with Hiroshi as punishement while Aya kills herself 'cause she can't have the girl she love...
You know... people's gonna hate you if this doesn't have a happy ending XD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 05, 2007, 07:17:23 PM
Gawd! It doesn't end! Lol, poor poor Miki, sleep sexing in the middle of the night.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 05, 2007, 07:57:00 PM
Quote
Hiroshi - check point five (one more talk).
A final goodbye? :dunno:


Quote
Hiroshi had come back from his solo mountain hike.  It was decided that he would stay the night since it was late and he'd come all the way to visit.  My mother was the one who insisted on his staying, and I knew that some part of her was scheming to get us back together.
It's a mom thing. She means well.


Quote
"Playing games, huh?" I asked in a mock-scolding voice.

He grinned like a little boy.

"I remember a certain someone who came over to my place last summer and wouldn't let go of the game controller for two days straight."
That definitely sounds like the ol' competitive streak our Miki-sama has. :D

Quote
I started to cry when we got to her hotel room.  It was something I hadn't done in front of another person for years.

...

Even in front of Aya, who I'd grown to trust more than some of the people I'd been friends with since elementary school, I couldn't stand being so weak.
When you have that magical connection with someone, you're more able to just let your emotions go like that.


Quote
I had never even touched a girl like this before.

Well, actually, I was kissed by one once when I was in my second year of high school, but we were at a party and she was drunk.  She threatened to take off all her clothes in a room full of twenty-five boys and girls unless she got to kiss every single person in the room.  We figured letting her kiss each of us was the best thing, since she was a notoriously rowdy drunk who liked to run around outside.  Being completely naked while doing so would attract much more attention.  Small towns were not good for this sort of thing.
Now why can't I mean girls like that? :dunno:


Quote
The memories were vivid in my mind.  As I recalled them, I started to feel the pressing need to see her.  To repeat last night.  This desire built up in me, and I started to fidget.
Oh uh...I don't think I like where THIS is going.


Quote
It was the dead of night and the neighbourhood was asleep.  Not a creature was stirring.  Not even a sheep.
WTF is this? Christmas-time?

...


Oh wait...the story takes place in late December, right before New Years. I guess it IS that time of year after all. :P


Quote
I left the room and tiptoed past my parents' bedroom, slipping through the next door.  My sister's old room.  In the bed, basking in the moonlight that peeked in brightly through the thin curtains covering the window, was Aya, her skin looking smooth and inviting in the pale light.  I walked quietly and stood over the bed, studying her.
Oh crap...


Quote
The chills I felt were not because of her warm breath hitting and tickling my ear, but because she sounded different.
Oooooooooooooooooooooooh crap...


Quote
I was awake and in bed with Hiroshi.  Once again.
Gawdammit I KNEW it!  :banghead:


Questions now are:
- How will Hiroshi interpret what just happened? Might he think that Miki's changed her mind and decided to stay, or might he think that this was some type of "closure" that she needed?   :?
- Will Miki still go through with her decision to move out and go to Tokyo?
- Will Miki tell Aya what happened? If so, how will Aya react? :o
- Why the fuck couldn't I have been in Hiroshi's place????? :frustrated:


You know... people's gonna hate you if this doesn't have a happy ending XD
Only for a little while. Then we'll all be begging him to come back with his next fic because it's better than crack. ;D

Besides, except for the 10 chapters of fluff, since when does OTN1 guarantee a happy ending? :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 05, 2007, 08:39:40 PM
Quote from: JFC
Besides, except for the 10 chapters of fluff, since when does OTN1 guarantee a happy ending?

and remember... not even then we have guarantees XDD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 05, 2007, 10:43:59 PM
I sighed and picked up the pseudo-sports bag.  It would do.  It was big enough for the essentials.  I'd have to buy a new wardrobe in Tokyo anyway.

Or borrow Aya's clothing, I thought slyly.

If she let me take off her clothes, I'm sure that meant we were close enough to wear each other's clothing on a regular basis.
Domestic thoughts already?



But as we undressed in order to touch as much skin as possible, something about her felt different.  Familiar, but different.  The handful of X-rated dreams I'd had in my life paled in comparison to this one.  This one felt real.  Like she was actually there underneath me, doing things that made me shudder and gasp out mindless phrases.  Uttering them quietly, softly, muffling my sounds in her neck.  My parents were right next door, and in my dream, it was just as important as in real life not to subject them to play-by-plays of my sex life.

"Miki, I..." she whispered into my ear.

The chills I felt were not because of her warm breath hitting and tickling my ear, but because she sounded different.

I tried to pull back a bit, but things were spiralling forward, and I couldn't stop them.  Part of me pulled back, but part of me needed that release that was so near.  So I kept going.

Then two things happened.

One was that I felt impossibly good.  The other was that I felt the world come to a disastrous end.

The moment I was about to gasp out something - maybe her name, but most likely miscellaneous nonsense - I woke up.

Ah, quite different from that other sleepwalking scene with Miki. And I'm intrigued by the mindless phrases she uttered... 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 06, 2007, 10:12:58 AM
Haha, JFC, the drunk/I-want-to-get-naked girl is based on a real life story.  Parties were often "interesting" when that friend was around.

Len.chan, hah, it's too late.  People already hate me.

WTF is this? Christmas-time?
I couldn't help it.  It was too tempting.

Ah, quite different from that other sleepwalking scene with Miki. And I'm intrigued by the mindless phrases she uttered...   
Quite.  And hmm... did I write "mindless phrases"?  I meant "unintelligible moans and groans".  :lol:

I didn't give the mindless phrases too much thought.  Would Miki have a dirty mouth?  A lovey dovey one?  (I kind of don't really want to explore that.)

sleep sexing
This is a positively awesome phrase.  Gigglesobs and sleep sexing.  Love x 2 is developing a vocab of its own.

Chapter 5 is coming along smoothly.  I wonder how long until I fall off this wave of fast-paced writing.  It's too convenient and fun.  There's got to be a catch.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 06, 2007, 03:24:07 PM
 Chapter 5

The next few minutes passed with varying degrees of speed.  At first, the entire world slowed down, and I could feel each tear tumble down my cheek like large boulders rolling down a gradual incline.  Before Hiroshi could notice, I rolled onto my side, facing away from him, unsure how to explain what I felt.  I didn't even know what was happening.

Then time sped up.  Some minutes passed, and I felt him sidle up to me, spooning me, kissing my exposed shoulder tenderly.  He reached a hand down in front of me and tucked it in between the side of my stomach and the mattress, holding me like he always did when we spent the night together, tracing small circles on my skin with his thumb.

"Micchan," he whispered.  "You surprised me."

He spoke in a calm voice, his desires satiated.  He was oblivious to what I was thinking.  I tried to respond, but all that came out was a choked sob.  He craned his neck and peered into my face.

"What's the matter?" he mumbled.  "Did I hurt you?"

I burst out with a laugh and a sob.  He hadn't hurt me.  As far as I could tell (although it was all based entirely on conjecture), he'd done nothing wrong.  I was the one who'd make a mistake and hurt myself.  It was all very funny while not being funny at all.

"Miki..."

I took a shaky breath.

"Hiroshi, I, uh..."

How could I tell him I'd been having a dream about Aya and I'd accidentally sleepwalked into his bed, thinking he was her.

"I didn't mean to do that," I said quietly.

He let go of me and backed away, pulling gently on my shoulder and rolling me onto my back.  He had a perfect view of my tears, and nothing but concern played across his features.  He wiped the tears away from my cheeks, looking surprised.  He hadn't seen me cry since the summer before we'd entered high school.

"Were you awake?" he asked, his voice cracking in fear.

He desperately wanted to be told I'd been awake the whole time, but I had to be honest with him.  I shook my head.

"I was dreaming."

He moved further away from me, letting out an unsteady breath and smoothing his hair back nervously.

"I-I'm sorry," he stammered.  "I didn't mean to-"

But I brought a hand up to silence him.

"Not your fault.  Don't apologise."

A part of me did hate him, though.  How could he not have noticed that I was sleeping?  I'd done things like this a few times before - come onto him while I was asleep - but never had I gone this far.  I guess the part of him that still wanted me had denied the scepticism within his heart, and he had convinced himself that I was awake and back for more.

I saw his expression grow cloudy.

"Were you dreaming of me?"

His voice was weak and pleading.  He wanted me.  He wanted me so badly.  I was still attracted to him (these things didn't simply disappear overnight), but a sense of loyalty to Aya protected me.

"No," I replied solidly.

I didn't want him to follow up his question, although it inevitably came.

"Who was it?" he asked.

How could I tell him?  It barely made sense to me.  I could never explain it to him.

His eyes pierced me with a glare, and I grew angry.

He wanted to know?  He had the audacity to ask me after what he'd done to me while I was asleep?  Her name was on the tip of my tongue.

No! I yelled to myself.  Get a grip.

"Never mind," I mumbled.

He became visibly incensed.  He sat up and grabbed my wrist.  I fixed him with a icy look, daring him to hurt me in my own home, my protective father right next door.

"I believed you when you said there wasn't anyone else and that you broke up for your own sake."

"I told you it's complicated," I snapped back.

"No, it's not.  You're just making it out to be.  Cut the crap already and tell me.  Is he from Tokyo?  Did you meet him here?  Did he trick you into a glittery, cosmopolitan life in the capital?  Did he dangle stories of excitement in front of you just to capture you for his own pleasure?"

I shook his hand off me violently.

"Aya-chan's not like that!" I hissed.

I immediately regretted it.

"Who?" he demanded.

"Never mind," I said with a blank look, praying that he hadn't heard.

"That girl you're friends with?" he asked in disbelief.

He tried to compute, but there wasn't enough believable data.  The wires got crossed in his mind.

"Miki, tell me what's going on."

By now, our voices were at normal speaking levels.

"Did she somehow-" he started, but he cut himself off uncertainly, aware of how embarrassing it would be if he spewed out his assumptions and was chastised for thinking such naughty things.  "Are... She...  Do you like her?"

I sighed.

"Things happened.  Complicated things."

Understanding dawned on him.

"Is that where you were last night?  With her?"

I gave no reply, which of course meant a loud and clear "yes!"

"Did you sleep with her?"

I shot him a look that could have frozen Ecuador.

"I can't believe this.  You cheated on me with some girl from Tokyo, and now you want to go off and live with her?" he muttered, laughing bitterly.  "Have you gone insane?!"

I rolled up from the bed.

"Keep your voice down," I hissed.

I got off the bed and put my pyjamas back on.

"No," he snapped back.  "I think I deserve a bit more than all this secrecy."

I ignored him and stalked out of the room.  I didn't want to talk to him anymore.  I couldn't face him.  I'd cheated on him, broken up with him, and then somehow cheated on Aya, even though Aya and I had not exactly established yet where we stood with each other.  I still felt like I was cheating her heart.

I heard him jump up and scramble to put his clothes on as I made my way downstairs and slipped on my heavy jacket and a pair of warm boots.  I opened the door and left as quickly as possible, but I heard Hiroshi coming down the stairs in pursuit.  I zipped up my jacket as I trudged through the driveway and into the snowy street.

The front door to my house opened sooner than I expected, and Hiroshi raced out.  I tried to walk quickly, but his legs were longer.  He confronted me, forcing me to stop.

"How could you let some girl you barely know seduce you like that?" he demanded.

"She didn't seduce me!" I yelled back, now feeling a little less restricted.

"Then you're going through a phase," he said.  "You're just bored, but if you'd come and told me, we could've fixed it."

"It's not a phase," I insisted.  "And there's no fixing what you and I have.  It just doesn't work unless I want to get married and become a shepherd's wife."

"But... she... she's a girl!" he sputtered incoherently.

The last person in the world who I thought would be close-minded was Hiroshi.  The only reason I didn't knee him in the crotch for saying something like that was because he had a reason to be spewing nonsense angrily - I'd done him wrong.

"Don't give me that crap," I growled.  "It just feels right with her.  Okay?  I can't explain it any better than that."

That shut him up, and for the first time, I realised that it was freezing cold.  Maybe minus ten degrees.  I was shivering.

"Damnit, Miki.  I thought... I don't even know.  What the hell...!?"

He threw his hands up in the air.

"I mean... how long has this been going on?"

I crossed my arms, hoping it would make me look tough, but really, it was just for warmth.

"We've been friends for a few months," I said firmly, "but nothing happened between us until last night."

I didn't mind being honest about that much.  In fact, it was kind of a relief to talk to somebody about it, even if that somebody was slowly turning into a raving lunatic and happened to be my ex-boyfriend as of that morning.

My answer did nothing to relieve his anger and worry.

"God, Miki.  How could you?  What did you even do with her?  How-how the hell would you know?"

I uncrossed my arms and shoved him viciously.  He fell to the ground, caught completely by surprise.

"Don't be an ass, Hiroshi," I spat out.  "If you understood even a tiny bit how confused I feel over this whole thing, you wouldn't be talking so rudely to me."

He didn't get up immediately.  He sat in the snow, looking up at me.

"I hope you're happy with her.  Maybe she can give you whatever I can't."

His tone was bitter and sarcastic.  However, somewhere underneath all of that was some kind of sincerity.  In a way, he conceded that he couldn't make me happy, but that Aya could.  It made me angry, though, that he refused to see things from my point of view.

"This is not fair," I railed on.  "I can't help who I fall in love with.  It's not like I planned the whole thing or was dreaming about her ever since I met her.  I've been miserable about my situation for a long time, and you haven't noticed.  When Aya-chan came here, she noticed right away, and she made me feel better about myself.  We clicked.  So I'm sorry if I hurt you, but things happen.  Bad timing or not."

Finished with my tirade, I stuck my hands in my jacket pockets and stared across the dark street.  Hiroshi sat on the cold, wet ground.  We must have stayed like that for five freezing minutes.

"And anyway," I spoke up again.  "At least I let you know as soon as possible.  As soon as I knew that my feelings had changed."

He looked down at his knees and then stood up with such speed that for the briefest of moments, I thought he was going to lunge forward and hit me.

He didn't, though.  He wiped the snow off his pyjama pants.

"Let's just end this here," he said quietly, turning away from me.  "Let's just end our association now.  I think that's best."

So much for trying to stay friends.

"You've always been one of my best friends, Saito Hiroshi."

He needed to hear that.  Or it could be that I needed to say it.  Maybe we'd drifted apart in the last few years, but we'd still gone through thick and thin together.

"It's my birthday next month, but do me a favour.  Don't call me."

His words were like an old, rusty nail hammered through my heart by a clumsy carpenter.

I deserved it.  I deserved it for every bad thing I'd done in the past twenty-four hours.  I deserved it for breaking his heart.  I deserved it for becoming one of those girls that I hated hearing about.  Those girls who seemingly let their voracious sexual appetites get in the way of every meaningful relationship they could potentially have.

But no, it wasn't about sex, I told myself.  It was so much more than that.

But then why had I had a dream like that?  A dream that had created such a desire in me that I found the closest non-family member to take it out on?

Ugg.  Hormones confused me.

But Hiroshi was not to know that I was so affected.  I walked by him and turned to face him.

"You coming back to my house?" I ask in a casual, unaffected voice.

He shrugged, a habit he'd picked up from me.

"I'll be back in a minute."

Those were the last words he spoke to me.

I nodded distractedly and turned away, walking back to my house and leaving the door unlocked so that he could get in later.  I went back to bed, numb with cold, numb with sickness, and terrified.  I had completely lost one important person that day.  The other, Aya, might very well follow if what I had done came to light.  If I lost her, too, I felt like I would lose myself.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on June 06, 2007, 11:43:50 PM
THANK YOU!
i was dying thinking she would give up going to tokyo because of that err...sad and confusing episode u.u
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 07, 2007, 01:15:27 AM
Quote
Haha, JFC, the drunk/I-want-to-get-naked girl is based on a real life story.  Parties were often "interesting" when that friend was around.
Dude, you gotta introduce me to these friends of yours.  :pimp:


Quote
Some minutes passed, and I felt him sidle up to me, spooning me, kissing my exposed shoulder tenderly.
Wasn't there an episode of Seinfeld where they were debating the merits of spooning? Like, a "to spoon or not to spoon" type of thing? :dunno:


Quote
"I didn't mean to do that," I said quietly.

He let go of me and backed away, pulling gently on my shoulder and rolling me onto my back.  He had a perfect view of my tears, and nothing but concern played across his features.  He wiped the tears away from my cheeks, looking surprised.  He hadn't seen me cry since the summer before we'd entered high school.

"Were you awake?" he asked, his voice cracking in fear.

He desperately wanted to be told I'd been awake the whole time, but I had to be honest with him.  I shook my head.

"I was dreaming."
Remember what he told you when you first started going out Miki. He'd rather you be honest and break his heart quickly rather than prolong the tension/agony by trying to "protect" his feelings.


Quote
"Were you dreaming of me?"

His voice was weak and pleading.  He wanted me.  He wanted me so badly.  I was still attracted to him (these things didn't simply disappear overnight), but a sense of loyalty to Aya protected me.

"No," I replied solidly.

I didn't want him to follow up his question, although it inevitably came.
If Hiroshi continues with his current line of inquiries, it's not going to be pretty. He managed to maintain his calm and control himself when Miki actually broke things off with him, but that's when he was fully awake and cognizant of what was going on. Here, he's just been woken up, and is both physically and emotionally spent.  Now is definitely not the time to lose it and have a fight, especially when you're in the same house as Miki's folks.


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He became visibly incensed.  He sat up and grabbed my wrist.  I fixed him with a icy look, daring him to hurt me in my own home, my protective father right next door.

"I believed you when you said there wasn't anyone else and that you broke up for your own sake."

"I told you it's complicated," I snapped back.

"No, it's not.  You're just making it out to be.  Cut the crap already and tell me.  Is he from Tokyo?  Did you meet him here?  Did he trick you into a glittery, cosmopolitan life in the capital?  Did he dangle stories of excitement in front of you just to capture you for his own pleasure?"
To find out that Miki was dreaming of someone else, that she was wanting to be with someone else instead of himself, must have finally been the straw that broke the camel's back for Hiroshi.  And when guys get pissed off, we shift into "ultra-simplistic" mode.  None of that "complicated" crap. Hiroshi's feelings (not to mention his ego) have been badly hurt. He wants answers. We (as guys) want to know what, where, when, why...and we want to know NOW.


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"Aya-chan's not like that!" I hissed.

I immediately regretted it.

"Who?" he demanded.

...

"Is that where you were last night?  With her?"

...

"I can't believe this.  You cheated on me with some girl from Tokyo, and now you want to go off and live with her?" he muttered, laughing bitterly.  "Have you gone insane?!"
And thus...the truth, and Hiroshi's emotions, comes out.


Quote
I ignored him and stalked out of the room.  I didn't want to talk to him anymore.  I couldn't face him.  I'd cheated on him, broken up with him, and then somehow cheated on Aya, even though Aya and I had not exactly established yet where we stood with each other.  I still felt like I was cheating her heart.
As hard as this is for Hiroshi to take in (because it is, after all, one HELL of a bombshell), Miki has much, much more that she has to personally deal with. She's still the one who has to actually find a way to sort things out (if that's even possible).


Quote
I tried to walk quickly, but his legs were longer.  He confronted me, forcing me to stop.
As painful as this is going to be for both of them, it has to be done. This is probably the only way that Hiroshi will truly know where he and Miki stand on things. Until he gets that, he could never truly let go of her. Likewise, Miki needs to truly realize that in trying to establish a new life for yourself, those first few steps can be really painful. Not just for what or who you're leaving behind, but for HOW you're leaving them behind.


Quote
"Then you're going through a phase," he said.  "You're just bored, but if you'd come and told me, we could've fixed it."
Girls, you have to realize, as guys...we try to fix things. Even if we know that the chances are next to impossible, we have to try. Hiroshi, understandably, is currently angry, but also desperately scared that he's really losing Miki. Up until this point, he probably still held hope in the back of his mind that they'd eventually get back together. If she was bored with him, he'd be willing to do whatever it took, change himself in whatever way that she wanted him to, in order to keep her.  The fact that, in his mind, she's leaving him for another woman...right now it's just more than he can handle.


Quote
"Don't give me that crap," I growled.  "It just feels right with her.  Okay?  I can't explain it any better than that."

That shut him up, and for the first time, I realised that it was freezing cold. 
This was it. When Miki said this, Hiroshi knew he no longer had a chance to win her back. To say that things felt "right" with Aya meant that it didn't feel "right" with him. Despite his anger and confusion, he knows that Miki deeply loves him too. However, if it's not right...it's just not right.  Hiroshi knows that.


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"I hope you're happy with her.  Maybe she can give you whatever I can't."

His tone was bitter and sarcastic.  However, somewhere underneath all of that was some kind of sincerity.  In a way, he conceded that he couldn't make me happy, but that Aya could.  It made me angry, though, that he refused to see things from my point of view.
Considering the circumstances of what Hiroshi's just been told, it's a bit much for Miki to expect him to be "understanding" right now.  Hiroshi still knows that he and Miki do still love each other, and because of that, he honestly does want her to be happy. It's just hard for him to accept that she's more happy with Aya, whom she's only known a few months, than she is with him, a guy she's known since childhood.


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"At least I let you know as soon as possible.  As soon as I knew that my feelings had changed."
Miki did remember what he said to her. She did her best to end things quickly, like he asked her too. 


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"It's my birthday next month, but do me a favour.  Don't call me."

His words were like an old, rusty nail hammered through my heart by a clumsy carpenter.
Hiroshi's not saying this out of malice or hatred against Miki. He's saying it as a defence mechanism. To love someone as deeply and honestly as he loves Miki...it's going to take a LONG time for him to be able to deal with this on his own. To do that, he's cutting off contact with her for as long as he possibly can. Maybe then he won't think about her as much. Maybe then he won't miss her as much. Maybe then he won't remember that they loved each other as much as they did.


Quote
"You coming back to my house?" I ask in a casual, unaffected voice.

He shrugged, a habit he'd picked up from me.

"I'll be back in a minute."

Those were the last words he spoke to me.

...

I had completely lost one important person that day.
As much as Miki would like to have some type of contact/relationship with Hiroshi in the future, she knows that it's next to impossible. He's in too much pain. They both thought he could deal with it, and if the circumstances had been different, if he had found out the details another way...maybe he would have been.  But for now...right now...there's just no way.


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The other, Aya, might very well follow if what I had done came to light.  If I lost her, too, I felt like I would lose myself.
The question now is, will Miki keep the secret of this night?  If she tells Aya, how would she react? Furthermore, if she DOESN'T tell Aya, and she somehow finds out anyway, how would she react then?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 07, 2007, 03:14:14 AM
Miki should tell her anyway. And cry. Crying is a good way to confess horrible things.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 07, 2007, 05:49:23 AM
just one thing

Quote
I can't help who I fall in love with.

so, even if she tried to deny it before.. IT IS LOVE!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 07, 2007, 10:32:48 AM
Wasn't there an episode of Seinfeld where they were debating the merits of spooning? Like, a "to spoon or not to spoon" type of thing?
I don't know.  I haven't seen that one.  But I'd be on the "to spoon" side all the way.
Quote
The fact that, in his mind, she's leaving him for another woman...right now it's just more than he can handle.
Yeah.  That's got to hurt.  I have a friend who was involved in that kind of situation where he woke up to find his girlfriend making out with his best (girl) friend.  It didn't bother him, though.  He let them go their way, and they all stayed friends.  I wrote Hiroshi with this friend specifically in mind.  I wanted Hiroshi to be the complete opposite.  I didn't want him to make any excuses for Miki (something like "oh, well, I can't help it if Miki likes girls now, so I guess I've got to forgive her", or even "Wow, hot.").  No double standards.  To him, cheating is cheating.  Leaving someone - no matter who/what sex you're leaving for - is still leaving someone.  I wanted him to be genuinely hurt.  That's because I like emotionally traumatising my characters.  Hah.  But actually, I side with Miki in this story, in this specific case.  Maybe that night with Aya was kind of her trial run (not to sound cruel).  She couldn't possibly know what was in her heart until she tried it all out.  It would blow for her to break up with Hiroshi with the intention of hooking up with Aya, and then find that she and Aya have absolutely no chemistry together.  Part of her coming to an understanding about what she felt involved spending that night with Aya and doing naughty things.  And now it's time for me to stop pulling things out of JFC's butt.  Hahaha!


I'm not that cruel, Kei-Br.  I do like to see those two together.  But JFC brings up an appropriate point here.  Will Miki tell Aya?  Or not?  And if so, how will Aya react?  I agree with rndmnwierd - tears can endear you to the person who cares about you.  Yet still...

What's the answer?  Not even I know.  Time to write fluff.  Hahaha.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Nana Oosaki on June 07, 2007, 11:01:07 AM
Quote from: OTN1
That's because I like emotionally traumatising my characters. 
And traumatising your readers. C'mon, tell us the truth, you like see us crying :P

Quote from: OTN1
Will Miki tell Aya?  Or not?  And if so, how will Aya react?
Aya must understand that that Hiroshi was Miki's almost-fiance. You can't erase what you feel for someone in only one day.

About Hiroshi: If Miki don't wants him, I do  :roll:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 07, 2007, 11:21:34 AM
Ah Updates.  My morning Coffee...

I felt there was a little bit of a focus loss in the middle of the confrontation there...Dont ask me to pin point, I hate quoting. Im a lazy person.
But yeah...YAYAYAY! Onto tokyo...

The drama continues
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 07, 2007, 09:17:34 PM
Quote
But I'd be on the "to spoon" side all the way.
Ditto. Considering how much more intense an experience sleeping together is, spooning should be a piece of cake.  :grin:


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I wanted Hiroshi to be the complete opposite.  I didn't want him to make any excuses for Miki (something like "oh, well, I can't help it if Miki likes girls now, so I guess I've got to forgive her", or even "Wow, hot.").  No double standards.  To him, cheating is cheating.  Leaving someone - no matter who/what sex you're leaving for - is still leaving someone.
Not to generalize, but that type of image is often more associated with people from small towns (compared to those from bigger urban cities).  Small-town values are simple, and more often than not people hold onto them very strongly.


Quote
But actually, I side with Miki in this story, in this specific case.  Maybe that night with Aya was kind of her trial run (not to sound cruel).  She couldn't possibly know what was in her heart until she tried it all out.  It would blow for her to break up with Hiroshi with the intention of hooking up with Aya, and then find that she and Aya have absolutely no chemistry together.  Part of her coming to an understanding about what she felt involved spending that night with Aya and doing naughty things.
Indeed. If Miki and Aya hadn't spent that first night together, Miki's mind would still be full of so many questions, conflicting thoughts, and self-doubt that she'd probably just snap one day.  At least in this way, some things were made more clear for her.


Quote
And now it's time for me to stop pulling things out of JFC's butt.  Hahaha!
It's multi-talented, don'cha know? It does more than just sit on chairs and protect my tailbone.  WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  :shakeit:

 :lol:


Quote
What's the answer?  Not even I know.  Time to write fluff.  Hahaha.
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY FLUFF!!  :w00t:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 07, 2007, 10:34:15 PM
But actually, I side with Miki in this story, in this specific case.  Maybe that night with Aya was kind of her trial run (not to sound cruel).  She couldn't possibly know what was in her heart until she tried it all out.

You're starting to scare me... (Not!)

That sounds a lot like things I've said and done before. (One of my many peculiar ideas about human interaction and relationships.)
And, also I'm siding with Miki in this. ;)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 14, 2007, 01:44:49 PM
That little cheat Miki getting our sympathies.  How does she do it?!  Hahaha.
About Hiroshi: If Miki don't wants him, I do  :roll:
He's quite the catch, huh?  I'm glad he came across as sounding like a nice man.  Nothing but the best for Miki, right?

Did you all forget about this story?  I didn't!  But it was on hold while I finished those ridiculous chapters of fluff.  So now that I wrote 20 chapters of fluff in a 10 chapter slot, get ready for angsty payback here.

Chapter 6

The next day was full of tension.  Hiroshi left first thing in the morning.  He didn't speak a word to me, except in his general "goodbye" to everyone when he stepped out the door.  My mother had been eying me the entire time, and I knew that she wanted to ask me what was going on.  She must have heard the commotion the night before, and only a fool wouldn't have noticed the distinctive atmosphere the house had been thrown into.  The second Hiroshi stepped out of the door, my mother started to turn to me, but I ran up the stairs before she could catch my eye.  I got ready and ran back down, claiming that I had a lot of errands to run before the next day.

I walked slowly through the streets and found myself at a Gusto.  I thought nobody was going to be at a family restaurant on the morning of New Year's Eve, but there was a crowd.  Not packed, but not deserted.  I went in and got myself a booth with a window seat, ordering the all-you-can-drink deal.  I started sipping oolong tea and thinking.

I would see Aya tomorrow, and I didn't know what to say or when to say it.  First thing when I got to her apartment?

"By the way, I sleepwalked right into Hiroshi's bed, took of his clothes, and had sex with him two nights ago," I could say to her.

Or should I not say anything to her?  It's not like she'd find out.  We didn't share the same friends, and Aya and Hiroshi had never met before.  All he knew was that her name was Aya.  He didn't even know her last name, which turned out to be a good thing.  I wouldn't want him to get nasty ideas of going to the press with a juicy story, or some other such nonsense.  Not that he'd do that.  He had a little more class and intelligence than that.

I gulped down a big mouthful of cold tea and grit my teeth.  Was this even worth getting worked up over?  Aya and I didn't even have a definition.  We'd had one night together.  One.  And it had been a moment of infidelity for me.  So technically, she shouldn't get angry because she already knew I was cheating on my boyfriend at the time.  Not only that, but I'd also been asleep when I had been with Hiroshi.  I had had no control over my motor functions.  What's more, I'd been dreaming about her.  How could that not make her happy?

Even with all these justifications and defences, I still felt guilty.  I still felt like she'd murder me if - when - I told her.  And I had to tell her.  I wanted to.  Some crazy part of me wanted to be completely honest and upfront.  There was no other way to proceed with her if I wasn't truthful.  There'd be no point being with her if I lied and covered up big things about myself.  My parents had always emphasised honesty, taking responsibility, and admitting my mistakes.  If I couldn't own up to my mistakes in front of Aya, then there were few people beyond my family that I could trust.

Various scenarios played through my head as I started to drink coffee instead of tea.

In one of them, I'd get to Aya's home and sit down.

"Listen," I'd say seriously.  "Two nights ago when I was asleep, I accidentally walked into Hiroshi's room and slept with him."

She'd look at me in disgust.

"What?!"

"I didn't mean to," I'd say.  "Can you forgive me?"

"Get out."

I'd try and reason with her, but she'd haul me out of her apartment and throw my bag after me.

No, that was a little extreme.  Aya would be mad, but she wouldn't be that unreasonable.  I restarted from my first line.

"Listen.  Two nights ago when I was asleep, I accidentally walked into Hiroshi's room and slept with him."

She'd stare at me long and hard.

"Do you want to get back together with him?"

"No."

"Then why'd you do it?"

"I was asleep.  I was having a dream about you.  I couldn't control it," I would reply sadly.

She'd shake her head in disappointment.

"Dream or not, how can I trust you if you go around doing things like that?"

"But I promise I won't do it again!" I insist.

"You just said you can't control it."

She'd win like that.  She'd tell me that I could stay at her place, but she'd put a futon out in the living room for me.  I'd have to find a new place to live after that.

No, telling her was no good.  Too depressing.

If I didn't say anything...

"Hi, Aya.  I missed you," I'd say, walking in.

She'd lock the door behind me and lead me into her apartment.

"I missed you, too," she'd say back, and she'd pull me into her bedroom for round two, leaving the grand tour of her residence for the next day.

And I would live with my guilt for the rest of my life.

No!  No good.

While I sat and imagined my scenarios, I lost track of time and my surroundings.  I didn't notice someone walk in and sit across from me until she waved a hand in front of my face.

"Micchan," she called out.

I blinked, looking up.  Only Hiroshi and a few other close friends called me that anymore.

"Nakanoko-chan!" I mumbled in surprise.

I hadn't seen her in about three months.  She worked in Asahikawa and didn't have much time to visit home.  We kept in touch through mail, but even those had been sparse, especially in the past two months with Aya being around and the holidays approaching.

"What are you doing here all alone and with that long face?"

Nakanoko Yuu was one of those people who simply embodied the words "cheerful" and "cool" in a breathtakingly perfect mix.  She was hip and had everyone fawning over her, trying to be her best friend, and she was happy, always sparing a smile for her friends and even strangers.  We'd met at the beginning of high school and had taken a liking to each other immediately even though our personalities didn't seem compatible at first.  I considered her one of my closest friends.

I ignored her question.

"What am I doing?  What are you doing?  I haven't seen you in months!" I laughed to soften the statement.

"I brought my boyfriend home for the holidays," she replied. 

So Nakanoko finally decided to introduce him to the family.  I suppressed an amused smile.  Her conservative parents would be in for quite the surprise.

"Your parents will be thrilled," I said innocently.

She smirked.

"I need to show them that I'm living in the world, not a convent," she quipped.  "But what about you?  What's your deal?  What's wrong?"

Oh, what an interesting predicament.  To tell the truth or not.  That was the question.  I hadn't told her much about Aya, other than the fact that I'd made a new friend from Tokyo.

"I broke up with Hiroshi," I blurted out.

That much I had to tell her.  She knew him, too, and would find out anyway.  Her face broke out into a distressed expression.

"Oh no.  What happened?"

I sighed and tried my best to explain.

"I've just been getting really antsy living here, and he and I were in a rut.  I was the one who broke it off with him."

She looked sympathetic, but she was smarter than that.  She knew that wasn't my big news.  I couldn't keep things from her, and it troubled me.

"Anything else?"

"I'm moving to Tokyo tomorrow."

"Wow!" she cried out, and then quickly slapped her hand down over her mouth, continuing in a quieter voice.  "Tokyo?  Micchan... why?"

I sighed again.

"I need a complete change of pace.  And, uh, I have this friend there who'll put me up for a bit."

"Guy or girl?" she quizzed.

"Girl."

She breathed out a sigh of relief.

"For a moment I thought you'd met some Taro off the street and let him trick you into moving in with him."

I stayed silent, in pain.

"You didn't," she gasped, seeing my look, and I turned red.

"No way, Micchan," she said in disbelief.

"I, uh, I didn't mean to..." I stuttered.

"So you did meet a new guy after all.  Who is he?  How'd you meet him?  And how do you know this friend, by the way?"

So she hadn't quite figured it all out.  That has half a relief.

"No, it's not like that exactly," I denied calmly.  "And I met that friend here."

Nakanoko let it go through her mind.

"I can accept that," she said.  "But why so sad?  You're the one who broke things off with Hiro-kun, right?"

I nodded.

"But last night I accidentally, uh... I kind of..."

"One last time together, huh?" she finished for me.

"But I was sleepwalking," I added hurriedly.

She gave me a disbelieving look, but she must have believed me in the end.  She knew I did weird things like that.

"Okay, so you guys had sex one last time.  Big deal.  You did that with Nakajima-kun, right?"

"That was different.  This time I feel guilty," I said uncomfortably.

"Guilty?"

She tasted the word, rolling it around on her tongue before continuing.

"One often feels guilty about something like that when there's another guy involved.  Another new love or crush."

I took a gulp of coffee.

"I..."

I had no idea what to say.

"Oh my god!" Nakanoko exclaimed.  "You slept with someone else!"

The entire family restaurant must have turned around to look at us.  On the outside I remained calm, but on the inside I spazzed out.

"I can't believe it.  And you didn't tell me," she scoffed.

Shut up, Nakanoko.

"And how was I supposed to tell you when you'd freak out?" I asked.

"Why would I freak out?" she laughed.

"Because it wasn't a guy," I mumbled.

Dead silence.

Somewhere in the back of mind, I thought Gee, I hope she doesn't announce this, too, the restaurant.

She studied me, presumably to make sure I wasn't pulling her leg.

"Micchan, I know that your life is boring and this town really lacks entertainment besides that silly animal history museum you like so much, but were you so desperate that you had to go and score with a girl?" she asked me.

I flared up, insulted, disappointed.  I was about to speak my mind when Nakanoko put a hand on my arm.

"I'm joking," she said in a monotone, a twinkle in her eye.

I relaxed a little.  It seemed like she was going to take it in stride.  I could always trust her to remain cool about the weirdest thing, especially when I told her about the time this strange friend of mine licked the sole of my foot, claiming that he thought it was a friendly gesture.

Nakanoko resumed with a serious expression.

"I have no clue how you got yourself into that one, but here's my advice: do yourself a favour and don't get in way over your head with something you don't understand."

What?  Did she mean give up on Aya?

"And what I mean by that," she clarified, "is that if you're confused about your feelings and don't know what you want, don't do anything drastic like moving halfway across the country."

Just then, her phone rang and she picked it up to read the message.

"Aoki-chan's arrived," she announced.  "You want to join us?"

Aoki Yuka was almost the spitting image of me.  Cool, collected, honest, kind of plain, and fairly easygoing around friends.  If something wasn't funny, she wouldn't laugh.  If she was bored, she wouldn't hide it.  She and Nakanoko had been friends since elementary school, and I'd become friends with her after meeting Nakanoko.  We got along fairly well, but we usually needed a third person there with us to move things along.  Otherwise we'd just sit there and be content to pass the time in silence, staring at the television for hours.

As much as I liked Aoki, I didn't want to be in a group situation.  Having her around would complicate matters.  We didn't share secrets.  Nakanoko had heard about every person I'd slept with before (not that I had a huge list or something), but Aoki had not.  That was just the kind of friends we were.

"No, thanks," I declined politely.  "I need to do some more thinking."

"Don't worry yourself to death," she said with a wink, standing up to leave.

"Wait," I said before she could go.  "You're not grossed out, are you?"

She snorted.

"I'm surprised, I'll give you that.  But grossed out?  No.  You do what you want.  And come on, I'm a little too mature and open-minded for something like that to gross me out."

I sighed in relief on the inside.

"When did you grow up?" I asked with a mock sneer to hide my gratefulness.

"While you were off exploring home team territory," she retorted.

I rolled my eyes and gulped down the last of my coffee.

"Go meet Aoki-chan," I shooed her off.  "Say hi for me."

"Will I see you before tomorrow?" Nakanoko asked, turning serious.

I shook my head.

"Probably not."

"Then good luck.  But think about it carefully.  Only if she's worth it.  Only if you know what you feel is actually a feeling for her and not just the overwhelming need to get out of this lovely hometown of ours."

Her words echoed in my head long after we said goodbye.

I had to decide what I felt for Aya.  Maybe it really was just my desire to get out of town.  But I had told Hiroshi that I couldn't help who I fell in love with.  Had I meant that in a deep, love sense, or just in the general way of having feelings that went just a step beyond normal friendship?

No, it couldn't be just my desire to leave town.  I really did like her and want to keep spending time with her.  There was love potential.

Right?

If there was that potential, then I had to figure out what I was going to do about this "last night with Hiroshi" issue.  That could throw a wrench in the works and make everything grind to an untimely halt.

I got up and went to pay my bill.  Thinking alone wasn't helping.  I needed a revelation brought on by a lightning bolt.  Skies were clear, though, so no chance of that.  I'd have to wait.  I prayed for a miracle before the next day.

I went for a two hour walk in the hills while contemplating life, and then spent the remainder of the day doing what I was supposed to do.  I picked up my final pay from Baachan, said goodbye, and then went home. 

To my relief, my mother was out when I got home, so I went directly to my room and sat down with a magazine.  I flipped through it mindlessly.  I was still wondering what to do.  My phone lay right beside me.  I hadn't had any contact with Aya so far, and it was already four in the afternoon.  I wondered if she was being grilled by her manager.  It was a holiday, but the entertainment world never seemed to sleep.  I wondered if she was okay.

Of course she's okay, I scolded myself.

The girl had an iron will, and she'd been in the business for so many years.  She'd have had to have built up good defences against harsh words.

As if knowing I was thinking about her, she e-mailed me.  When the phone rang, I simply knew it was her, and I checked to see what she had to say.

I just got back from a meeting with some of the top executives of my company.  They're furious with me and they're probably going to fire me.  No final decision yet, though.  But you know what?  I don't care.  It was worth it to meet you.  What are you up to now?  Have time to talk?

I froze up in fear and guilt.  She'd lost her job because she spent two months hanging out with me.  I was going to be moving into her apartment for an unspecified amount of time.  She wanted me there.  She wanted me by her side and, presumably, for her only.  Nobody else.  Not Hiroshi.  Nobody. 

What I had done last night had been out of my control.  I had been asleep.  But would she see it that way?  And on second thought, had it really been beyond my control?  What if a subconscious part of me had wanted it?  A last time with Hiroshi just to make sure...

All I knew is that what I had to say couldn't be said over the phone or in an e-mail.  I had to stand in front of her and tell her.

I raised my phone and typed.

I'm sorry.  Don't do anything crazy.  Try to save your job.  I don't want you to lose it 'cause of me.  I'm at home now.  Go ahead and call.

I sat there with a icy fear growing in my stomach.  I waited for the phone to ring, but it was taking a long time.  Maybe she didn't want to call.  Maybe I was supposed to call.  I was about to dial her number when I received another message from her.

Ug.  Got to go again.  Boss called.  Sorry!

I breathed a sigh of relief.  I'd been temporarily saved.  But this safe haven that was her ignorance wouldn't last forever.  I would either reveal everything to her and get chewed out, or I would hide it and be eaten alive by my guilt.  Either way, there would be a lot of gnashing teeth.

I wrote her back.

It's okay.  I'll contact you tomorrow when I land.  Good luck!

I felt cheap adding a little heart and a smiley face, but I did it anyway.

I continued to look at my magazines and do idiotic love quizzes until my mother came home an hour later.  She came straight to my room and didn't bother to knock.  She whipped the door open and glared at me.

"Are you going to tell me what happened?" she asked.

I liked being friends with my mother, but sometimes there were things I didn't want to talk to her about.  Details about sex were some of those things.  Now added to that was all talk pertaining to me looking at Aya in a different way.

I closed my magazine.

"It's complicated, Mom.  Hiroshi and I aren't friends anymore."

She looked dismayed.

"Miki-chan, he's such a nice boy."

"I know," I huffed and then calmed down, deciding not to take things out on my mother.  "He's just not right for me."

"What did you argue about last night?" my nosey mom ploughed on.

I grew irked, but kept my composure.

"About me moving.  About breaking up with him.  My reasons and all that."

I could tell that my mother wanted to ask me more, but she could sense my genuine discomfort, and for once in her life, she towed it in and let her daughter be at peace.

"Well, I hope your spirits aren't too dampened for tonight.  We'll be heading to Grandma's house soon.  You're still coming, right?"

New Year's celebrations would go on forever and ever no matter what crises I faced.  Holidays were so reliable that way.  Always there, only changing once in a blue moon.  I could choose to skip it and spend my time here, but what good would that do?  I'd accomplish nothing but scaring myself.  I nodded at my mother.

"Of course."

My final duty to the family before I flew off into an unfamiliar land.

But, oh, what a crappy way to end a year.  With a heavy set of chains weighing me down.  When I went to the shrine on New Year's morning, I would pray for a good start to the year.  I would pray for Aya's forgiveness.  Even Hiroshi's forgiveness.  I'd pray to stop making mistakes and become the kind of adult that Aya would appreciate.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 14, 2007, 02:33:19 PM
I hope Miki makes the right decision and tells Aya what happened.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on June 14, 2007, 05:03:24 PM
^ Me, too. I don't think that Aya can call Miki a completely bad person because of her honesty. It's not like Miki to hide things and she knows that. She needs to tell Aya or she will feel guilty every time they do something, and that is no way to live life. Also, I wouldn't completely put Miki at fault. I feel sorry for the guilt she is feeling, but she did have a nice relationship with Hiroshi, despite being, I don't know, a little bored? It's hard to have a sudden rush of feelings.

We all know that Aya and Miki are practically soul mates, but the Miki from another world doesn't know that. Aya understands it because she already had these feelings for Miki, but I'm sure she was reassured about being soul mates when she slept the Miki in this world.

And, you know, it doesn't really matter which world Aya was in as she was bound to lose her job it seems!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 15, 2007, 04:59:00 AM
Quote
The second Hiroshi stepped out of the door, my mother started to turn to me, but I ran up the stairs before she could catch my eye.  I got ready and ran back down, claiming that I had a lot of errands to run before the next day.
She probably is also trying to convince/remind herself about all she has to do. The more she can keep herself busy, the more she can get distracted and the longer she won't have to deal with what happened the previous night.



Quote
I would see Aya tomorrow, and I didn't know what to say or when to say it. 

...

Or should I not say anything to her?  It's not like she'd find out.  We didn't share the same friends, and Aya and Hiroshi had never met before.  All he knew was that her name was Aya.  He didn't even know her last name, which turned out to be a good thing.  I wouldn't want him to get nasty ideas of going to the press with a juicy story, or some other such nonsense.  Not that he'd do that.  He had a little more class and intelligence than that.
Even though she knows how much she hurt him, Miki trusts Hiroshi to not become a scumbag (even though some might say he'd be a fool NOT to sell his story).


Quote
Was this even worth getting worked up over?  Aya and I didn't even have a definition.  We'd had one night together.  One.  And it had been a moment of infidelity for me.  So technically, she shouldn't get angry because she already knew I was cheating on my boyfriend at the time.  Not only that, but I'd also been asleep when I had been with Hiroshi.  I had had no control over my motor functions.  What's more, I'd been dreaming about her.  How could that not make her happy?
Ah, the complexities of the heart.


...


They suck, don't they?



Quote
I still felt guilty.  I still felt like she'd murder me if - when - I told her.  And I had to tell her.  I wanted to.  Some crazy part of me wanted to be completely honest and upfront.  There was no other way to proceed with her if I wasn't truthful.  There'd be no point being with her if I lied and covered up big things about myself.
Honest Miki. It gets her in trouble sometimes, but it's still one of the reasons we love her so. She's straight-up about everything. There's little, if anything mysterious about her. What you see is what you get, flaws and all.   :heart:


Quote
I didn't notice someone walk in and sit across from me until she waved a hand in front of my face.

"Micchan," she called out.

I blinked, looking up.  Only Hiroshi and a few other close friends called me that anymore.

"Nakanoko-chan!" I mumbled in surprise.
Oooh, another friend? I wonder if Miki will seek some "third party advice"?


Quote
You're the one who broke things off with Hiro-kun, right?"

I nodded.

"But last night I accidentally, uh... I kind of..."

"One last time together, huh?" she finished for me.

"But I was sleepwalking," I added hurriedly.

She gave me a disbelieving look, but she must have believed me in the end.  She knew I did weird things like that.

"Okay, so you guys had sex one last time.  Big deal.  You did that with Nakajima-kun, right?"

"That was different.  This time I feel guilty," I said uncomfortably.
So this wasn't the first time Miki did this??? :o  She really should see someone about that sleepwalking problem.


Quote
"Because it wasn't a guy," I mumbled.

Dead silence.

Somewhere in the back of mind, I thought Gee, I hope she doesn't announce this, too, the restaurant.
Let's just hope Nakanoko-chan can be trusted to be discreet about it.


Quote
"Then good luck.  But think about it carefully.  Only if she's worth it.  Only if you know what you feel is actually a feeling for her and not just the overwhelming need to get out of this lovely hometown of ours."
In almost any other situation, there would be little doubt about how Miki felt about Aya. However circumstances here are FAR from typical.  Right now Miki's being torn in multiple directions, all of which she wants to go in, but which are ones that, at the same time she isn't yet completely sure about.  This last statement by Nakanoko-chan is just what Miki needed to hear. No judgements, no "if it was me" type of thing, nothing at all that tries to influence Miki's decision in any way. If Miki chooses to take this step, then she has to do it for the right reasons. If she's doing it just to escape the hometown life that she's scared of being trapped in, it's not fair to Miki, not fair to Aya, and even not fair to Hiroshi. Miki needs to know why she wants to go. There are undoubtedly multiple reasons for WANTING to go; Miki knows this because she's been standing at that line in the sand for a long time now, debating about whether or not to step over it. The question now is, what was it that finally pushed her enough to step over that line? Once Miki can figure that out, she'll know if she's doing the right thing.


Quote
"Well, I hope your spirits aren't too dampened for tonight.  We'll be heading to Grandma's house soon.  You're still coming, right?"
Maybe her grandmother's can help. Grandmother's are wise, after all (so long as they aren't so prudish that they're not willing to be open-minded). 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 15, 2007, 12:13:02 PM
nakanoko's reply is just freaking gold. Ah, I was gonna bump this thread Ive been dying for an update..and now Im dying to find out Ayas reaction when and if Miki tells her of her sleepsexing..
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 15, 2007, 01:25:18 PM
Quote
This last statement by Nakanoko-chan is just what Miki needed to hear. No judgements, no "if it was me" type of thing, nothing at all that tries to influence Miki's decision in any way.
Yeah, that's a very good way of putting it.  Good thinking.
So this wasn't the first time Miki did this??? :o  She really should see someone about that sleepwalking problem.
Oh, no.  I meant she slept with Nakajima one last time.  She didn't sleepsex* with him.
Quote
Let's just hope Nakanoko-chan can be trusted to be discreet about it.
I based her on a couple of friends that I have, so hah, she'd better be good and keep her mouth shut.

Glad you like her, too, Mikan.  Looks like she's a hit.  Hahaha. Too bad she's not even a secondary character.  More like tertiary.  :lol:

Good analysis, black velvet!  And yes, Aya has trouble keeping a hold on that job of hers.  We'll see what happens.

*rndmnwierd, thanks again for that term.  Love it.

I've thought up of some insane directions to take this story once (or is that IF?!) the relationship/definition thing is wrapped up.  Dare I try?
Title: Knowing is half the battle
Post by: Mikan on June 15, 2007, 01:55:13 PM
I had some time and motivation to google sleepsexing. Its an actual condition known as "sexomnia"  :lol:

Quote
Three researchers from the universities of Ottawa and Toronto and the Toronto Western Hospital, described "sexomnia" as a mix between having a wet dream and sleepwalking

For the entire report heres the link:
http://www.health24.com/news/Sexuality/1-944,23049.asp

Facinating stuff..
Sorry for being slightly off topic
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 15, 2007, 02:18:55 PM
Sexomnia, lol. Sleepsexing sounds cooler. And you can have the word OTN, as long as I get 10% royalties.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 18, 2007, 01:26:18 AM
Quote
Oh, no.  I meant she slept with Nakajima one last time.  She didn't sleepsex* with him.
Well, that's both comforting and NOT comforting at the same time. :dunno:

Just gotta remember it's part of the awesomely angsty story. ;D


I had some time and motivation to google sleepsexing. Its an actual condition known as "sexomnia"  :lol:
...

Facinating stuff..
Sorry for being slightly off topic
Wow. :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 18, 2007, 02:39:41 AM
That little cheat Miki getting our sympathies.  How does she do it?!  Hahaha.
Because, even if what she's doing could be considered wrong by others, she's just being true to herself. She embraces her selfishness and lives with it. Not many people can be/are this frank about such matters... :yep:

Ok, I admit it. I'm a Miki fan!  :love:
Title: Re: Knowing is half the battle
Post by: OTN1 on June 18, 2007, 10:04:01 PM
I had some time and motivation to google sleepsexing. Its an actual condition known as "sexomnia"  :lol:

Quote
Three researchers from the universities of Ottawa and Toronto and the Toronto Western Hospital, described "sexomnia" as a mix between having a wet dream and sleepwalking

For the entire report heres the link:
http://www.health24.com/news/Sexuality/1-944,23049.asp
Canadian researchers have too much time on their hands.  As do you, Mikan.  Hahaha! "Oh my" is about all I can say.

Yes, Amarghetta.  Simply yes.  I lik how you put it.  Embracing her selfishness, being frank about who she is...  That's what makes Miki unique and likeable (at least to some people).

I've been quite busy lately, so no new writing from me.  The next chapter is proving to be difficult to start, too, so I have to spend some more time thinking anyway.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 19, 2007, 12:10:17 AM
Take your time dude. We all know it'll be worth the wait. :pimp:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 20, 2007, 10:20:55 AM
Thank you.  Here we go again:

Chapter 7

Things always got interesting at my family New Year gatherings, and that was a very mild way of putting it.  Some of my family members held onto opinions as if they were clutching hard-earned gold medals at an Olympics award ceremony.  As I sat there and watched them cheerfully bicker away that evening, I thought about myself and my own views.  Going to university must have opened up my eyes and allowed me to develop a mind with broader horizons.  I was a small town girl, but I wasn't completely set in my traditional ways.  I could see what was out there and I wanted to taste it.

I wonder what would have happened if I had moved to Tokyo liked I'd wanted to when I was a teenager.  Maybe that would have been the equivalent of going to university.  I would have been thrust into a whole new different world.  A cosmopolitan city full of variety.  A completely new and different education.  Maybe one that was much better than the one I got sitting in a lecture room and taking notes on a piece of paper.  Although to my university's credit, it allowed an unusually high number of foreign students to enrol, so while economics did little to expand the scope of my cultural understanding, talking to those foreign students did.

All "could have been" and "what if" statements pushed aside, the undeniable fact now was that I was about to move to the big city.  I was about to become re-educated.  A new chapter of my life was beginning.  Or maybe it wasn't a new chapter.  Maybe it was a whole new book.  A whole new life.  That's how it felt.

At around half past eleven that evening, I was getting another drink from the kitchen when I decided to check my phone for messages.  I flipped it open and saw that I'd missed a call twenty minutes ago.  A call from Aya.  In addition to the missed call, I had a new e-mail.  It was from her.

Just wanted to hear your voice one last time this year, but I guess it's okay.  Have a Happy New Year!!

And that was how this girl made my heart melt.  Forgetting my worries, and having had a few drinks and feeling fairly relaxed, I called her up.

"Hi!" she exclaimed into the phone.

Was she drunk?

"Hi, Aya-chan," I said quietly in a vague and stupid voice.

"I called you just now but you didn't pick up," she stated.

"Yeah, I didn't hear the phone.  I was with family.  Thanks, though."

There was a bit of a silence as we both waited for the other to continue.

"What are you up to tonight?" she asked finally.

"I'm at my grandmother's house with my family.  We're doing the usual.  Eating, drinking, arguing, and watching TV," I grinned.  "What about you?"

"Lucky," she whined, and I could imagine her pouting.  "I didn't have time to go down to see my parents so I'm just out with a couple of friends."

It sounded like she was in a busy place.  I could hear a lot of buzzing going on in the background.  I wondered what friends she was with.  She had mentioned her friends from time to time in the past few months, and of course I knew some of their faces because some were her fellow singers and stars.  I had an idea of which ones she was close to and which ones she simply hung out with, though.

"Shiba-chan?" I asked, calling to mind a picture of the former Melon Kinenbi member.

In the media, they always claimed to actually be good friends outside of work.  I had found out that this was true.  Aya spoke about her as one would a close friend.  It was nice to know that not everything in the newspaper was faked.

"Yeah, among others," Aya replied perkily.

Well, at least she was in good company and having fun.  Let her end the year on a happy note.  I just hoped that tomorrow, the start of the New Year, wouldn't be a big disappointment for her.

"That's good," I said, lacking anything better to say.  "And how'd things with work go?"

"My boss calling was a false alarm.  Still no decision yet.  It might take a few days, so I'm not thinking about it 'till then," she replied in good spirits.

There was that optimistic side of her.  I really liked it.

"Good to hear," I said with a smile in my voice.

"Anyway, I'd better get going because we're off to go... haha, somewhere.  I'm not sure where," Aya laughed a contagious laugh that made me chuckle.

"Okay, you go do whatever it is you have to do.  I've got to get back to my family and make sure they don't kill one another."

"See you tomorrow?" she asked in a voice that reverted instantly from loud and jittery to shy and hopeful.

I swallowed hard, pushing my guilt back down into the pit of my stomach.

"I'll contact you when I land," I said quietly.

"Can't wait.  Bye-bye."

"Bye-bye," I mumbled after she'd hung up.

With a sigh, I closed my phone, put it in my bag, and then gathered up my energy to make my re-appearance in the living room, trying to forget all the bad and focus on the good.

I slept at my grandmother's house that evening.  After we brought in the official start of the New Year with our traditional jump and then a silence where we all e-mailed our friends, my two cousins and I went off to go to bed.  We were similar in age and got along pretty well, so we were able to chat and laugh a bit before turning out the lights in our shared room.  A little crowded, but it kept us warm.  It was exactly what I needed to relax after a tense day and to forget about my worries.

In the morning, we woke up bright and early and went to the local shrine to open up the New Year.

As I stood there, my eyes closed, my hands clapped together, I wondered what to wish for.  I could do what I did every year and ask for happiness or success during the year.  But this year, I felt like I owed Aya something approaching gigantic, so I prayed for her.  Of course I included myself in my wish, but it was mainly for her sake.

I hope that whatever happens with me, Aya's happy.  If she's upset by what I've done, please let her get over it quickly and find happiness.  Let this year be a good year for her.

It was all superstition.  I didn't believe there were great powers in the rocks and trees making sure I had a wonderful life.  But there wasn't much else I could do.  Not for another few hours.  At least praying at a shrine calmed me down, surrounded by family and friends and the natural tranquility of the shrine grounds.

The morning passed by quickly, and suddenly it was time to leave.  I finished packing in a hurry, positive that I'd get to Tokyo and find that I had forgotten to bring my favourite jeans or skirt.

When I went downstairs, my mother went on about how she was going to miss me.  She gave me a big, smothering hug, and then pushed me away, telling me to leave quickly or she'd start crying.  My father remained stoic the entire time.  He would be driving me to the train station, so there was no need for him to say goodbye yet.  I said goodbye to my mother, smiling to prove to her that I really was happy and that this was really what I wanted.

The ride to the station was quiet.  We didn't speak, so I flipped on the radio and listened to some oldies from the seventies and eighties.

When we got to the station, my father lifted my bag out of the trunk and put it beside the car.

"From here on, you're on your own," he said.

Superficially, he meant that I'd have to find my own way to the airport, but in a deeper sense, he was reminding me that the moment I stepped off this island, he wouldn't be able to come and help me in a jiffy if need be.  I'd have to find someone else to come and fix the clogged up sink pipes and spent light bulbs.

"Take care of yourself," he finished simply.

No big speech, no angry words, no sad words, not a hint of emotion on his face.  That was my father.  I knew that he really did feel a whole slew of things and that he would miss me terribly, because I took after him.  I often hid what I felt, too, if I thought it would cause a scene or was too exaggerated.  The complete lack of emotion meant that there was lots of emoting going on inside.

"Thank you," I replied.

Thank you for driving me to the station.  Thank you for letting your baby go off into the world without (too much) objection.  Thank you for taking care of me for almost twenty-six years.

Words left unspoken.  Words that I meant.  Words that he knew already.

I smiled at my father one last time.  He didn't smile back, but for a moment, his eyes weakened, and I could see all the worry and hurt, but all the happiness and curiosity that he felt for me, reflected in them.  I picked up my bag, turned around, and didn't look back as I walked off.

The airport was easy to get to, and the crowds were mercifully thin, so while my bag became tedious and heavy, at least there was enough room for me and it to travel side-by-side.  The entire trip to the airport I spent thinking about what I was going to say to Aya.  As I checked in at the airport and sat waiting at the gate, I began to wonder what I thought about the whole thing.

What was my opinion about what had happened the previous night with Hiroshi?

I had been so consumed with worry over what Aya would think that I had barely had time to really decide what I thought.

What happened with Hiroshi was, simply put, wrong.  It had been a mistake - an accident.  It wasn't supposed to mean anything, and in fact, it meant very little compared to what I'd been dreaming about.  Of course I still cared for him, but it was quickly fading as other feelings started to take over my heart.  So in the end, what had happened had been out of my control, and not something that Aya should worry about or blame me for.  The fact that I wanted things to work out with her - work out in what way, I didn't yet know, but if we were going to be living together for at least a small passage of time, I didn't want there to be bad blood between us - clearly made The Hiroshi Incident an unimportant issue.

And that was what I thought.  If only Aya would see it that way.

For the plane ride, I reverted back to worrying about what she'd think and say, and dozens of new scenarios ran through my head, ranging from her slapping me to her pretending not to care and then sabotaging my life to get revenge.

Dozing off for the last half hour of the flight brought me a brief respite from my worries.  I woke up just in time to watch us land.

In Sapporo, it had been snowing lightly before taking off, causing a slight delay until it was deemed safe to fly after the twenty minute flurry session had brought itself to a close.  In Tokyo, there was not a hint of the white fluff.  By the time the plane landed it was dark, but still noticeably warmer than back home.  I concentrated on the disembarkation procedure and didn't let my mind wander until I had my luggage in one hand and was safely waiting for a train that would get me out of the airport area.  It was then that I sent Aya an e-mail telling her that I'd arrived and was waiting for a train, followed by a quick e-mail to my mother to tell her I had arrived safely.

Aya's reply was a little delayed, and I laughed inwardly as I wondered if she was suffering from the night before.  She sent me detailed directions to her apartment, and I committed them to memory.  Then, once the train had arrived and I'd found a seat, she sent me another e-mail saying she'd meet me at the station.  I sent one back insisting that I could find her place on my own, but she sent yet another e-mail back telling me to shush up and listen to her.  And so I relented.

Hey, since when do I give up that easily? I asked myself as the dark Tokyo scenery sped by outside the window.

The question remained unanswered because I didn't bother to give it a second.  I was merely following my instinct when dealing with this girl.  It was simply the way it had to be.

It took just a little over forty minutes to get to her station from the airport.  It would have taken less time, but I got a bit confused at one station and ended up missing the train and having to wait for the next one.  I wasn't completely inexperienced in the ways of the Tokyo train system, having been to the city several times before, but I was generally bad at directions, so I never trusted myself to be right, and that's what caused my delay.  It was one of the silly complexes that I'd have to work on fixing now that I had dozens of train lines to choose from in daily life.

As I was walking down the platform to find the station exit where I would meet Aya, someone came up from behind me.

"Hi!  Long time no see!" he said happily.

I looked at him, a man perhaps in his late thirties, my mind racing to find out what thirty-year-old men I knew in Tokyo.  When I studied his face, though, I didn't recognise him.

"I'm sorry?" I asked politely.

I looked at him in confusion, and his face slowly fell, matching my expression.

"Oh, sorry," he mumbled in confusion, taking a closer look at me.  "I thought you were someone I knew.  Sorry."

He bowed his head quickly and peeled away from my presence in embarrassment as I tried not to burst out laughing.  Well, at least my first real human interaction since landing hadn't been dangerous, rude, or a sleazy pick up attempt.  Just an honest case of mistaken identity.  I supposed the back of my head looked very much like many other girls'.

I reached the exit and immediately started scanning the crowd, looking for Aya.  I couldn't find her, so I went to a wall and stood there, waiting nervously.

She appeared a minute later, her hair wet from what I assumed had been a recent shower and wearing a hat and sunglasses, making me smile secretly in amusement.  Her disguise wasn't all that bad since it covered most of her face, but the fact that nobody else was wearing that much head gear made her stand out even more.  I saw her walk towards me, so I saved her some of the trouble, picked up my bag and met her halfway.

"Welcome to Tokyo, Miki-chan," she smiled underneath her "disguise".

"Thank you, Aya-chan," I replied cutely.

"This way."

I followed her out of the station and down the street.

I'll tell her when we get to her place.  That way we can have some privacy so that she can yell and scream and throw me out without causing too much public embarrassment, I decided.

It took about ten minutes to walk to the front of her apartment, during which she asked me how my flight had been and what I felt so far about being in the city.  I answered honestly that the flight had been nerve-wracking and that the people seemed nice enough in Tokyo so far.

I looked up when we stopped in front of a set of doors that would lead us to her place.  From what I could see of it, it was a new building, and it did not look cheap.  Not by a long shot.  For a second - just a tiny second - I wondered what I was doing walking into this rich idol's fancy Tokyo condo when I came from an average-sized house in a small town in the middle of Hokkaido.  I waved the thought off, however, because it was not conducive to making me feel better.

"Like it?" she asked, obviously seeing that I was impressed.

"It suits you," was my reply.

She smirked and took my bag from me, letting me wander in with nothing to weigh me down. 

The lobby was a quiet and pleasant affair, spotless and homely.  The elevator that we stepped into was in pristine condition, boasting trendy paneling, large, clean mirrors on the back wall and ceiling, and a smooth, turbulence-free ascent.

"Seventeenth floor," Aya said as we got in, and I obediently pressed the appropriately marked button.

We rode in silence, and when the doors opened, Aya gestured for me to get out.

"To the left.  Number forty-seven."

I stepped out into a neatly-carpeted hallway.  The lighting was soft and delicate, somehow urging all who passed through to relax and be at peace.  The walls seemed so soft that if I fell against one, I thought that I might feel like I was sinking into warm butter.  This place did everything to make its residents want to stay permanently.  I was already getting the feeling that I didn't want to leave.  I hadn't even seen the inside of Aya's room yet, but I knew that if I lived here for the rest of my life, I'd be content.

I led us down the hallway, counting the numbers as we walked by the doors until we reached number seventeen-forty-seven.  I stood at the door while Aya put my bag down, took her key out, and opened the door.  All I saw was darkness.  I picked up my own bag, and after she indicated for me to walk in, I did so, slipping into the darkness.  She followed right after.

The darkness disappeared promptly.  Aya flicked a switch up, and we were bathed in a bright, warm light, it alone starting to take away the chill that had crept into our bones from the cold winds outside.  I took off my shoes, not even bothering to arrange them neatly, and walked around the living room slowly, inspecting everything briefly.

Her apartment was clean, and so utterly "Aya" that I just let out a laugh.

"What?" she asked.

"It's so you!" I cried out in delight.  "I mean, it's exactly what I expected."

From the pictures on the wall to the plants to the books and magazines she chose to leave on her bookcase, it all matched what I knew about her from the time we'd spent together.  Her small laptop computer sat in a corner beside her television set and DVD player, all dust-free and brand new models.

This place was a home, not just a temporary residence that she was using until she decided to move back to her hometown.

"I hope that's a good thing," she said with an uncertain laugh from behind me.

I heard her walk up beside me.

"Definitely," I assured her with a smile.

This place... I could live in forever.  I forgot about Hiroshi.  All I could think about was waking up every day in this room with her and going about our daily life in peace and harmony.

"Come on, there's more," she said, linking her arm around mine and pulling me along.

I let myself be taken on the tour.

"This is the kitchen," she said in a childish way.

I huffed out a laugh, as it was quite obviously a kitchen and I had no need for her to tell me so.  It was clean, a few recently-washed dishes sitting and drying beside the sink.  She pulled me over to a door and opened it.

"Bathroom," she announced, pointing to the invitingly large bath in the room that called out for me to fill it up with hot water and sink into it in order to warm my bones.

She pulled me past two doors.

"Toilet," she said, "and a closet full of cleaning junk beside it."

She didn't need to open those up as neither would be very big nor impressive.

"And last, my bedroom."

She slid open a door, and in the tatami room that lay behind it was her Ayaesque bedroom.  A few bookcases, a nice poster of some landscape, a large closet presumably stuffed with her mounds of clothes, and a chest of drawers that doubled as a vanity, makeup and other accessories neatly lined up on it.

"It's usually very messy.  I just cleaned it up to impress you," she admitted after seeing that I was surveying the types and brands of makeup she had.

I could imagine it becoming awfully cluttered, but she struck me as the kind of person who would clean it up before it got too bad.

She hadn't lied before when she had said the bed was big enough for two, but I tried not to keep my eyes on it for too long because I didn't want her to get the wrong idea.  Not that that would be such a bad thing.  It just didn't feel right.  Not yet.  Nonetheless, the bed looked comfortable and warm, and I wondered if I'd ever be allowed to sleep in it.

I instantly remembered what I had to tell her, but her arm encircling my waist and pulling me close to her made me hesitate, and then it was too late.

"So, do you like my place?" she asked.

I nodded, starting to sweat a little, and it wasn't just because of her proximity.

"It's really nice, Aya.  Like... really nice," I said.

"You don't mind living here?"

Why would she ask something like that?  Of course I wouldn't mind.  The question was more appropriately directed at her.

"I think I should ask you that.  You don't mind if I stay here for a few weeks 'till I find my own place?"

I chuckled to myself, imagining what kind of place I could afford.  Nothing as glorious and clean as this place.  I would have to start small and work my way up.

"You can stay longer," she said, not specifying how much longer.

"How much longer?" I asked curiously.

"As long as you can tolerate living with me," she said, squeezing me gently.

That was it.  I had to tell her now.  She would be the one not able to tolerate living with me once she knew.  I opened my mouth to speak when she interrupted me.

"Did you eat dinner?"

It was half past nine in the evening and I hadn't eaten, but I was so nervous that I wasn't a bit hungry.

"No, but I'm not hungry," I claimed.

She looked at me, doubt strewn across her face like a veil, but she ended up believing me.

"Want to take a shower then?"

Oh my god, I thought.  With her?

I didn't let my terror show, but I think she sensed it, and she let me go, pushing me to the bathroom she'd shown me earlier.

"I have to make a phone call, so go ahead and get cleaned up.  Sorry I didn't fill the bath up earlier, but you can try that out tomorrow since it takes forever.  And don't worry, I'll be here when you get out and we can just stay in this evening."

I let out an inward sigh of relief, and I thanked her, grabbing some things from my bag and letting her provide me with a clean towel. 

As I let the magnificent high-pressure shower wash away my sweat and urge some more warmth into my muscles, I started to decide on the best way to tell her about the incident.  I came to the conclusion that short and to the point was best, and so once I got out of the shower, I would talk to her right away.

I was in there for twenty-five minutes, washing my hair and body carefully, stalling and running up a bill with all the hot water I was using.  When I finished, I put on some neutral pyjamas that could double as a quick getaway track suit in the event that she threw me out suddenly, and feeling quite a bit refreshed, I left the bathroom.

Aya was still on the phone when I went into the living room, and she looked up at me, holding up a finger to indicate that she'd be done soon.

"So Tuesday at eleven?" she asked, confirming some sort of plan.

I sat down on the couch, and leaned back, pretending not to pay attention.

"No, I hate that one.  Oh, come on, we went there last time.  Can you choose another place?" she whined

She paused to listen to the response.

"Ah, that's much better!" she said, her voice reverting to its cheerful state.  "You're the best!"

She said goodbye to whoever was on the line, and then apologised to me, getting up from the floor and sitting beside me on the couch.

"So, how'd you like the shower?" she asked.

"It's great.  Much better than the one I have at home," I laughed, finding it cute how she kept checking to make sure I was enjoying everything I encountered.

"Good," she said happily, and she snuggled into me.

I tried not to groan.  How could I start to talk to her when she was being all close and cute?

"Are you actually happy you came here?" she suddenly asked with uncertainty in her voice.

"O-of course," I stammered in surprise.  "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You just seem a little quiet."

There I had gone making her feel like a bad host.  I put a hand on her leg comfortingly.

"I'm just a little overwhelmed," I said, which was the truth.  "But I like being here very much."

I just don't like keeping things from you, I finished in my mind.

"Good."

Now I really couldn't say anything.  Not in this situation.  Maybe I'd wait a few minutes until she moved away, but she didn't move away.  She started to ask me what I wanted to do the next day and the next weekend, and she had all sorts of suggestions of what we should do together.  I tried to follow her fluctuating topics, but I found myself clumsily flailing about, hiding my distraction behind the guise of being overwhelmed.  She sensed my tension.

"Bedtime," she said cutely when I tried to stifle a yawn.

Oh brother.

She showed me to her room again, and while she got changed, I inspected her bed, checking the thickness of the blankets, the bounciness of the mattress, and the position of the window, trying to judge whether it would impede efforts to sleep in by letting in the sunlight too early.

"The window faces west, so don't worry too much about the morning sunlight," she informed me, reading my mind.

It had the effect of relaxing me, and I slipped in under the covers without invitation, curling up on my side and facing the wall.  She soon followed after turning out the light, and things got very uncomfortable again for me the minute that happened.

"You're really tense, huh?" she said, crowding me and treating me like a teddy bear, speaking with her mouth a few centimetres away from my ear.  "I know this is all really new and weird for you, but try to relax.  I'm not going to bite your head off or do anything bad to you.  And if I do, you can hit me and yell at me for being a moron."

I giggled despite myself, and she hugged me even more tightly.

"Yeah, I'm just, um..." I mumbled, trying to find some way to lead into what I had to say.  "I-"

But she pinched my side.

"Maybe you should give your brain a rest.  It seems fried."

She put her hands on my shoulders and started to massage them, and somewhere in the back of my mind, some crazy statistical information about the high percentage of massages that led to wanton behaviour danced about.

And we did not put that statistic to shame, for what started as a massage indeed led to more, and before I could say "stop, I need to tell you something important", hormones usurped the throne from reason in my brain and I became my hungry old self around her for the second time in our lives.

A good deal later, it was no longer cold in the room, and the sweat on my body wasn't from my nervousness, but from the heat we had generated.  However, as the hormones slowly cleared out and reason inched its way back to its rightful seat at the head of my brain's central functioning centre, a cold fear swept through me and I felt like I had to say something as soon as possible before the chance slipped away.

But how could I say anything when neither of us was wearing a stitch?

Then again, I'd argued with Hiroshi while in the nude.  But we'd been going out for two years and we'd known each other for longer.  It was a bit more normal.

I sucked in a huge breath until my lungs felt like they were going to explode, and I let it all out until I felt my lungs would collapse.  Then with one more medium-sized breath, I spoke.

"So..." I started awkwardly, pulling the sheets over my body a little more and backing away an infinitesimal distance.

"Mmm?" Aya uttered, stretching out on her back in a languorous, teasing way under the thin sheets that covered us.

"Two nights ago I, um..."

I stopped, my heart beating like wild, my arms tensing up to defend myself when she inevitably started hitting me.

Aya closed her eyes, a sated smile on her lips, and I wished she didn't look so happy.  I wished we hadn't done what we'd just done.  I wished that I had had the courage to bring the subject up the moment I saw her at the station, not now in bed at midnight.

I steeled myself and ploughed on through my nervousness, chastising myself for being such a wishy-washy wimp around her.

"Two nights ago I sleepwalked and I kind of went to Hiroshi's room and slept with him."

I said it quickly, purposefully, matter of factly, and with grit teeth.  It was the moment of truth.

Aya, however, did not change her position, her eyes remaining closed.

"Is that so?" she asked conversationally.

Her mind must have been wandering and not listening to a word I was saying.  Not that I could blame her, but I wondered if all pillow talk with her would be like this - words going in one ear and immediately exiting out the other.  If so, there would be no point talking in bed, and there would go my opportunity to do something I really wanted to do with her.

"Are you paying attention?" I asked testily.

"Mmmhmm," she replied in the same way, dragging out the mumble.

"I slept with him.  As in sex.  Naked.  Skin-on-skin.  Hot and passionate.  In the guest room in my house," I continued, rolling my eyes at being ignored.

"Yeah, thanks.  I heard it the first time.  I don't need the details," she said surprisingly sharply.

Oops.  So she was paying attention.

"Ehhg... I- uh-" I stuttered

She opened her eyes and pierced me with a look I couldn't read.

"Two nights ago?  The day I left?"

Her voice revealed nothing either, but angry or not, I had to tell her the truth, so I nodded.

"And you were sleepwalking?" she asked, and this time I could have sworn she sounded almost amused and perhaps inclined to question the possibility of my doing such a thing while remaining asleep the entire time.

I nodded again, this time embarrassedly.

"And?"

Details.  She wants details.  Not about the actual act, but about the after part.

"He misunderstood.  He thought I was awake, and he apologised after, and then, um, we got into a fight outside and I kind of told him a bit of what happened between you and me, and he got even angrier..."

She seemed to latch onto something I said, because she lost the neutral expression and looked at me with interest.

"What did he think about that?  About your situation with me?"

I squirmed uncomfortably, sweating profusely under the scrutiny of her gaze.

"He thinks you're just a phase for me," I said in a voice that barely made it past my lips.  "He was really angry.  He felt really cheated."

She remained silent, no reaction.  I didn't like grovelling, but considering the mess I'd gotten myself into, I had to do something to repent.

"I'm really sorry.  I didn't want it to happen, and I couldn't control myself.  A-and it didn't mean anything.  I was actually having a dream about you," and here my face must've turned red at my unplanned admission, "and it kind of transferred into a real life, ah, situation, only you weren't there.  And I've been killing myself with worry because I hate what I've done and I don't want to upset you and-"

A cool hand touched my overheated arm, and I stopped talking.  Aya was looking at me with a look of pity.  Maybe she thought I was a pathetic excuse for a human.

"Miki, it's okay," she said quietly.

But it couldn't be that simple, so I waited until she spoke again.

"Somehow, it's okay," she sighed.  "You're here now.  Your heart is here.  Right?"

I nodded, unable to form words.

"And you were asleep then when it happened."

But why isn't she upset?

"So you're not upset?"

She shook her head.

"Of course I am," she said clearly, and my heart plunged.  "But things happen that we can't control.  Like I said, you're here now.  And it's not like I had any right to demand anything from you before.  I can't be completely upset with you."

My heart floated back up slowly to its normal resting spot.  What she said made sense, which stunned me.  She was being very sensible here, thinking hard with her head.  Maybe I was important enough to bust out the logic and reason.  The head was a useful tool when used properly, and while I believed matters of the heart should be left to the heart, there were some situations where a broad mind was required.

"Now that you live with me, however, you'd better not be going off and doing that with just anyone."

She spoke mostly playfully.  A bit serious, but softening her words with a joking tone.  I let out a sigh, my body feeling like it was a parched victim of a shipwreck finally tasting sweet, spring water after days of thirst and hunger.

"I'm really sorry," I said, my apology gushing out of my mouth uncontrollably.  "I don't have a habit of doing that.  I really don't."

"And you say you were dreaming about me?" she asked, the twinkle in her eye increasing tenfold.

I closed my eyes and made a pained face.

"Don't ask," I muttered.

"You're so shy around me," she laughed, stroking my hair in adoration.

"Give me time," I mumbled.

We exchanged silly banter for a few minutes until she told me to stop worrying and to get some rest.  We could talk more in the morning.  We lay there silently, each of us trying to go to sleep, but with some sort of uptight anticipation in the air.  Maybe she wanted to talk more but had decided to wait until the morning.  I definitely wanted to talk more.  I wanted to tell her that I was happy about the way things had worked out.

A perfect resolution.  Life could not possibly be this good.

But it was.  Sometimes it simply was.  Good things happened, and there were no bad effects to counteract them.  This was one of those lucky breaks in life that few people got.  With an inward chuckle, I wondered it some tree god had been listening to my thoughts at the shrine that morning and had decided to grant my wish.

Happiness bubbled up in me, and it came pouring forth in the form of words, again words that I could not control.

"Thank you, Aya-chan," I said, breaking the silence that had settled over us.  "And I promise you that from now on, I'm yours only.  Okay?"

My life was so strange.  Saying these words to a girl I had only met two months ago, a girl whose music I had listened to so many times on the radio.  A strange, strange life indeed.

She shifted a centimetre towards me and rubbed my arm.

"Okay.  And just so you know, I've been yours since before the first evening I met you."

Ug, how romantic, I thought sarcastically, yet still embarrassed.

There she was again saying how she felt like she'd known me long before she met me.  But that was okay.  If that was her way of telling me I was important, then I'd take every word I could get out of her.

We didn't speak anymore that night, but the tension from the air disappeared, leaving behind only the anticipation of being able to wake up beside each other the next day.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Nana Oosaki on June 20, 2007, 11:50:03 AM
Where is OTN1 and what have you done with he/she?
This chapter is too much "happily ever after" to be yours XD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on June 20, 2007, 12:29:06 PM
Where is OTN1 and what have you done with he/she?
This chapter is too much "happily ever after" to be yours XD

don't ask. It's better to live happy thinking that nothing bad is going to happen XD

anyway, I've never feared Aya's reaction to Miki's confession about her night with Hiroshi. First, Aya knows that she can't ask to much from Miki when she's been in her life for just two months. Even if it may hurt her a bit, she's concious about the fact that she hadn't any right over Miki, at least until now. And second, as Aya herself said, Miki's with her now, so no matter what happened before

Quote
If I didn't say anything...

"Hi, Aya.  I missed you," I'd say, walking in.

She'd lock the door behind me and lead me into her apartment.

"I missed you, too," she'd say back, and she'd pull me into her bedroom for round two, leaving the grand tour of her residence for the next day.

Hey, Aya did actually show her the place before anything happened XDXDXD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 20, 2007, 01:26:03 PM
Where is OTN1 and what have you done with he/she?
This chapter is too much "happily ever after" to be yours XD

Shhh, she must be in a good mood. Its best we dont bring the change to her attention!!

Wow, Miki couldnt have chosen a worse way or time to confess but it all ended ok. So is Aya gonna confess?

I found this chapter really really sweet. Although it wasnt as sugary as other chapters. Whatever, Im just glad you updated.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 20, 2007, 08:34:34 PM
Oh god! A happy like ending to a chapter! Either Miki has a brain tumor or Aya has incurable cancer and this is all just a dream.


....Or maybe, just maybe, no one will die and it really will be a happy story!


Yay!


I'd like it either way.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on June 21, 2007, 12:33:12 AM
Where is OTN1 and what have you done with he/she?
This chapter is too much "happily ever after" to be yours XD
Oh, don't be fooled by this happy phase, we'll be in deep angst before we know it. ;)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 21, 2007, 06:41:06 AM
Quote
I thought about myself and my own views.  Going to university must have opened up my eyes and allowed me to develop a mind with broader horizons.  I was a small town girl, but I wasn't completely set in my traditional ways.  I could see what was out there and I wanted to taste it.
That seems to be a somewhat common phenomenon with people who grow up in small towns. Those who never go anywhere beyond what they know often don't seek new experiences, while those who do end up seeking more.


Quote
At around half past eleven that evening, I was getting another drink from the kitchen when I decided to check my phone for messages.  I flipped it open and saw that I'd missed a call twenty minutes ago.  A call from Aya.  In addition to the missed call, I had a new e-mail.  It was from her.

Just wanted to hear your voice one last time this year, but I guess it's okay.  Have a Happy New Year!!
Awwwwwwwwww so sweet!  :inlove:


Quote
"And how'd things with work go?"

"My boss calling was a false alarm.  Still no decision yet.  It might take a few days, so I'm not thinking about it 'till then," she replied in good spirits.

There was that optimistic side of her.  I really liked it.

"Good to hear," I said with a smile in my voice.
Indeed, it would really suck if Aya got fired at this time of year. It would be even worse if she had to tell Miki about it (for obvious reasons).


Quote
"See you tomorrow?" she asked in a voice that reverted instantly from loud and jittery to shy and hopeful.

I swallowed hard, pushing my guilt back down into the pit of my stomach.

"I'll contact you when I land," I said quietly.
Despite how much it sounds like she's having fun at the moment, she's probably still go that little bit inside her that's worrying/scared Miki will suddenly change her mind and not come to Tokyo.  :cry:


Quote
When I went downstairs, my mother went on about how she was going to miss me.  She gave me a big, smothering hug, and then pushed me away, telling me to leave quickly or she'd start crying.  My father remained stoic the entire time.  He would be driving me to the train station, so there was no need for him to say goodbye yet.
It's going to be much harder for Miki's dad to say goodbye, especially after the argument they had (even though she said she forgave him).  It is, unfortunately, a male thing; particularly with dads. They don't want to appear weak in front of their kids. Dads are supposed to be that "pillar of strength" that the kids are supposed to be able to depend/rely on.  Miki's dad knows he can't stop her from going, so he at least wants her to go full bore, without any doubt in her mind that she's making the right decision for her. To do that, she can't be burdened with thoughts of guilt or worry about whether or not he could take the fact that she was leaving or about how he personally felt about it.  In the end, both of them would probably know anyway. It's just that it makes it less painful to go through if they don't actually say anything.


Quote
What was my opinion about what had happened the previous night with Hiroshi?

I had been so consumed with worry over what Aya would think that I had barely had time to really decide what I thought.

What happened with Hiroshi was, simply put, wrong.  It had been a mistake - an accident.  It wasn't supposed to mean anything, and in fact, it meant very little compared to what I'd been dreaming about.  Of course I still cared for him, but it was quickly fading as other feelings started to take over my heart.  So in the end, what had happened had been out of my control, and not something that Aya should worry about or blame me for.  The fact that I wanted things to work out with her - work out in what way, I didn't yet know, but if we were going to be living together for at least a small passage of time, I didn't want there to be bad blood between us - clearly made The Hiroshi Incident an unimportant issue.
That's the "rational" way to look at it. And chances are that if they could look at this whole situation in a rational manner (i.e. without getting any emotions involved), not telling would not be problem.  However, as much as Miki can try to rationalize it, in all likelihood the knowledge of that incident would still gnaw at her gradually, perhaps even getting to a point where she couldn't face Aya at all. That's not fair to either of them.


Quote
If only Aya would see it that way.

For the plane ride, I reverted back to worrying about what she'd think and say, and dozens of new scenarios ran through my head, ranging from her slapping me to her pretending not to care and then sabotaging my life to get revenge.
Told you it would gnaw at her. If she keeps this up it'll just continue and get even worse.


Quote
I wasn't completely inexperienced in the ways of the Tokyo train system, having been to the city several times before, but I was generally bad at directions, so I never trusted myself to be right, and that's what caused my delay.
This reminds me of a few people I know. :P


Quote
She appeared a minute later, her hair wet from what I assumed had been a recent shower and wearing a hat and sunglasses, making me smile secretly in amusement.  Her disguise wasn't all that bad since it covered most of her face, but the fact that nobody else was wearing that much head gear made her stand out even more.
Ooooooooooooooh...recently wet Aya. :twisted:

And yeah, disguise-looks usually work when you're not the only one with that particular look.  :D


Quote
I'll tell her when we get to her place.  That way we can have some privacy so that she can yell and scream and throw me out without causing too much public embarrassment, I decided.
The sooner, the better I say. At the very least, it'll show Aya that she's really being honest with her not trying to hide anything from her.


Quote
The lobby was a quiet and pleasant affair, spotless and homely.
I think you meant to say "homey" here dude. "Homely" isn't exactly nice.  :hee:


Quote
Her apartment was clean, and so utterly "Aya" that I just let out a laugh.

"What?" she asked.

"It's so you!" I cried out in delight.  "I mean, it's exactly what I expected."
That just goes to show how much they really do "click" despite having only known each other a few months.  It's almost like instinct.  :yep:


Quote
She hadn't lied before when she had said the bed was big enough for two, but I tried not to keep my eyes on it for too long because I didn't want her to get the wrong idea.  Not that that would be such a bad thing.  It just didn't feel right.  Not yet.  Nonetheless, the bed looked comfortable and warm, and I wondered if I'd ever be allowed to sleep in it.
She will. The real question isn't if Aya will allow her to, but rather, considering the whole Hiroshi situation, can Miki allow herself to.


Quote
I started to decide on the best way to tell her about the incident.  I came to the conclusion that short and to the point was best, and so once I got out of the shower, I would talk to her right away.
Best way to do it. If Aya's going to trust her, Miki has to give her the chance to make that decision.


Quote
I slipped in under the covers without invitation, curling up on my side and facing the wall.  She soon followed after turning out the light, and things got very uncomfortable again for me the minute that happened.

"You're really tense, huh?" she said, crowding me and treating me like a teddy bear, speaking with her mouth a few centimetres away from my ear.  "I know this is all really new and weird for you, but try to relax.  I'm not going to bite your head off or do anything bad to you.  And if I do, you can hit me and yell at me for being a moron."

...

She put her hands on my shoulders and started to massage them, and somewhere in the back of my mind, some crazy statistical information about the high percentage of massages that led to wanton behaviour danced about.
We have to remember here that in this story, to THIS Aya what she's doing is perfectly natural, but to THIS Miki it's all new and sudden. So it's bound to be (at least a little) uncomfortable, even without the Hiroshi incident weighing on Miki's mind.


Quote
I steeled myself and ploughed on through my nervousness, chastising myself for being such a wishy-washy wimp around her.

"Two nights ago I sleepwalked and I kind of went to Hiroshi's room and slept with him."

I said it quickly, purposefully, matter of factly, and with grit teeth.  It was the moment of truth.

Aya, however, did not change her position, her eyes remaining closed.

"Is that so?" she asked conversationally.
  Huh? :stunned:

Aya's not half-asleep, is she?


Quote
"What did he think about that?  About your situation with me?"

I squirmed uncomfortably, sweating profusely under the scrutiny of her gaze.

"He thinks you're just a phase for me," I said in a voice that barely made it past my lips.  "He was really angry.  He felt really cheated."
This is the first time (ever, as far as I can remember), that anyone other than Shiba-chan knew exactly what Miki and Aya's relationship was like.  This is the first time that Aya or Miki knew of anyone knowing what their relationship was like. And while it's interesting that Aya's interested/curious about how someone reacted now that there was actually a someone who knew, it's also worrysome that she seems so nonchalant about it.  One would think that she would be (at least visibly) a little upset by it.
:dunno:


Quote
But why isn't she upset?

"So you're not upset?"

She shook her head.

"Of course I am," she said clearly, and my heart plunged.  "But things happen that we can't control.  Like I said, you're here now.  And it's not like I had any right to demand anything from you before.  I can't be completely upset with you."
Perhaps Aya is blaming herself a bit for this. After all, this may not have happened at all had she not let Miki stay in her hotel room that night, or if she had not told Miki how she really felt, or if she had not asked Miki to come to Tokyo and live with her. Aya must realize how much pressure that would put on Miki and how Miki's life would be turned upside-down so quickly and so forcefully.  While she's undoubtedly grateful to have Miki there with her, she must feel a little bit of guilt at what Miki must have gone through (emotionally that it) in trying to decide whether to come or to stay behind.

There's also the whole thing about the circumstances that brought Aya to Hokkaido in the first place. It could be that she's just so thankful to have Miki back in her life that she's making herself overlook this whole incident.


Quote
"Now that you live with me, however, you'd better not be going off and doing that with just anyone."
Something tells me Aya will take great pleasure in ensuring that doesn't happen again.  :pimp:


Quote
I wanted to tell her that I was happy about the way things had worked out.

A perfect resolution.  Life could not possibly be this good.
As much as I personally wish it to be...somehow...I can't help but wonder at what further roadblocks these two are going to face, and whether or not they'll be able to deal with it together.


Quote
"Thank you, Aya-chan," I said, breaking the silence that had settled over us.  "And I promise you that from now on, I'm yours only.  Okay?"

...

"Okay.  And just so you know, I've been yours since before the first evening I met you."

Ug, how romantic, I thought sarcastically, yet still embarrassed.
Oh c'mon Miki, you know you love it too.  :shy1:



Where is OTN1 and what have you done with he/she?
This chapter is too much "happily ever after" to be yours XD
Oh, don't be fooled by this happy phase, we'll be in deep angst before we know it. ;)
Thing is, we wouldn't have it any other way now, would we?

...


...


...


not including the fluff chapters of course.  :grin:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 21, 2007, 09:44:46 AM
Has it gotten to a point where I've become this predictable?  Hahaha, maybe that means it's time to stop writing, soon.  The horse has been sufficiently over-beaten. 
(I'd just like to state that contrary to popular belief, I do like things that don't end in the decimation of Hello! Project.  Just look at the Fluff thread!)

Hey, Aya did actually show her the place before anything happened XDXDXD
Hahaha!  That's what I thought, too.  Miki's scenarios were all completely wrong.  Even that one.

Either Miki has a brain tumor or Aya has incurable cancer and this is all just a dream.
Hm, thanks for the ideas.  The forum can blame you when I start writing epic medical dramas about Aya and Miki.

Quote
Just wanted to hear your voice one last time this year, but I guess it's okay.  Have a Happy New Year!!
Awwwwwwwwww so sweet!  :inlove:
Yet more of my life experience.  Awww!
Quote
I think you meant to say "homey" here dude. "Homely" isn't exactly nice.  :hee:
Maybe in Webster's dictionary, but not in the Oxford (http://www.askoxford.com/results/?view=dev_dict&field-12668446=homely&branch=13842570&textsearchtype=exact&sortorder=score%2Cname).

Quote
This is the first time (ever, as far as I can remember), that anyone other than Shiba-chan knew exactly what Miki and Aya's relationship was like.  This is the first time that Aya or Miki knew of anyone knowing what their relationship was like. And while it's interesting that Aya's interested/curious about how someone reacted now that there was actually a someone who knew, it's also worrysome that she seems so onchalant about it.  One would think that she would be (at least visibly) a little upset by it. :dunno:
You've raised a good point.  Maybe Aya trusts Miki's judgement of character, and she might assume that if Miki told Hiroshi, it was because Miki fully trusted him.  But you're right.  But perhaps (as you've said) Aya's reaction was too nonchalant, and that's my oversight, not hers.  Maybe I'll address it later on.

I'm starting to get curious.  What is Aya thinking during all of this?  Maybe this is something to explore later.  Maybe not.  As I said a page or two before, I have a crazy idea for this story, and it might be kind of... big.  It might reveal some answers without having to go into Aya's pov.

And as usual, thank you to everyone for reading and for your thoughtful (hahaha, and prophesying) comments.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: iacus on June 21, 2007, 10:09:38 AM
Either Miki has a brain tumor or Aya has incurable cancer and this is all just a dream.
Hm, thanks for the ideas.  The forum can blame you when I start writing epic medical dramas about Aya and Miki.

I knew it! This was all too good to be true. I just knew it! 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on June 21, 2007, 11:03:31 AM
I'm starting to get curious.  What is Aya thinking during all of this?  Maybe this is something to explore later.  Maybe not.  As I said a page or two before, I have a crazy idea for this story, and it might be kind of... big.  It might reveal some answers without having to go into Aya's pov.

Yeah, I was thinking the same. Aya's reaction is too mysterious to leave it like that, actually I kept imagining Aya's thoughts during the whole chapter.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on June 21, 2007, 02:06:03 PM

Either Miki has a brain tumor or Aya has incurable cancer and this is all just a dream.
Hm, thanks for the ideas.  The forum can blame you when I start writing epic medical dramas about Aya and Miki.


Go me....
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on June 21, 2007, 06:35:46 PM
Aww....nice chapter!!!  :heart:




i think i should probably stop reading this now b4 u make them suffer and hav one of them killed by a giant panda! :cry:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 21, 2007, 08:13:08 PM
Quote
As I said a page or two before, I have a crazy idea for this story, and it might be kind of... big. 
Actually, my ass has been stirring up a few ideas too, particularly ones that could directly affect/be affected by Miki and some of the actions she's recently taken.  I'm not going to say anything though, as the big ideas really freak me out. :O
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on June 22, 2007, 12:17:45 PM
Holy crap. If Im getting what JFC is thinking then SHiZzAm! That would be awesome ^^
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 22, 2007, 01:50:47 PM
My idea is kind of way out there, but go ahead and try to guess what I'm planning.  If you get it right... no fluff, but I'll be impressed.

i think i should probably stop reading this now b4 u make them suffer and hav one of them killed by a giant panda! :cry:
Hahaha!

For heaven's sake, you people are all more morbid than me!  :lol:  Not that I want to give anything away, but I've killed off Miki in one story and Aya in another.  Chances are I'm not going to do it again.  (Although if a giant panda's involved, I might not be able to stop myself...)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on June 22, 2007, 03:46:14 PM
Giant pandas are really nice!!!
You can write about Miki huggin one and being suffocated until she dies...then aya would come fight it...and ended being smashed xD

ok...i should stop having alcohol....sorry ><
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 22, 2007, 09:10:45 PM
^ :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 27, 2007, 10:51:25 PM
Chapter 8

Aya lied to me last night in a terrible, unforgivable way.

The instant I opened my eyes - no, even before I did that - I wanted to scream at her for misleading me so maliciously. 

"Uhhh..."  heard her groan beside me as I turned to face her.

"You lied to me," I accused her, my first words of the day coming out in a scratchy voice.

"Eh?" she asked, yawning and rubbing her eyes innocently, turning onto her side to mirror my position.  "About what?"

She didn't seem particularly concerned about anything.

"You told me not to worry about the sun in the morning," I said, my voice gaining a little more smoothness.  "The window may face west, but your curtains suck."

She gave an almost unnoticeable shrug in response and didn't say a word.  She turned around onto her other side and backed into me, grabbing my arm and putting it around her, forcing me to hug her.  She then reached down and tugged one of the thin sheets up so that it covered our heads.  My protests died on my lips as I revelled in the warmth, the freezing tip of my nose quickly becoming a distant memory.  Before it could warm up completely, however, I moved my head and poked it into Aya's shoulder.  She twitched slightly, but she did nothing more to stop me.

I tried to drift off to sleep again, but I found it strangely difficult.  Everything was so new and fresh that I wanted to get up to explore it.  I wanted to see what books Aya had, the kinds of clothes she had, and what food was in the fridge.  I wanted to walk around outside and see what shops and restaurants were nearby.  I wanted to go to Shibuya and Shinjuku and window shop because it had been so many years since I'd gone to those places with my mom.  I wanted to go out and find a job so that I could become self-reliant.  For once in my life, I wanted to take the initiative to get out of bed and go out to do something.  Many things.

"Stop fidgeting," Aya demanded, shattering my giddy excitement.

I hadn't noticed my fidgeting, but I went stone still on command.

"Okay," I said obediently. 

There I went again.  Letting her order me around.  But it didn't bother me for some reason.  It felt nice.  Protective and loving, even.

"Are you asleep?" I whispered after a minute and a half.

"No," she sighed.

"Me neither."

Why did I revert to the mental age of six around her?  I wanted to ask someone that.

"Do you want to get up?  It's only seven," she asked in a sleepy voice that sounded like she needed a few more hours of slumber before she would feel human again.

Maybe one more hour wouldn't be such a bad idea.  It was a precious day off, after all.

"No, let's sleep more," I replied.

I had a feeling that Aya was a grumpy one when she didn't get enough sleep.  That won her this round.  But it was frustrating.  The one time I actually wanted to get up, I had to clamp down on my energy and relax.

It wasn't such a big problem, though, because I could enjoy this, too.  In fact, it was rather nice.  Still weird, but nice.  This was my second time spending a whole night like this with her, and it was different from the first.  Inexplicably different.  Maybe it was the setting.  We were in a real home in a real bed with real sheets.  They were her things, and she felt comfortable here, by default making me fifty percent more comfortable than I'd be in a strange hotel.  The setting was normal.

The weird thing about it all was us.  I couldn't fathom how I'd gotten involved in this situation.  One minute I was a good friend, the next some sort of sex buddy, and then from there it snowballed into a mutual promise to not look at anyone else the same way we looked at each other.  It looked like it was going to work out perfectly.  The only thing left to find out was whether or not we could live together for more than one day without driving each other up the wall.

"Hey, Aya," I said, forgetting that we were supposed to be sleeping.

"Uhh... huh?" she mumbled, already halfway to dreamland.

"Isn't this a little weird?"

I grabbed the sheet from above our heads and tugged it down so that we had some light and some fresh air.

"What?" she asked, her eyes closing tightly to block out the offensive light.

"Our whole association," I forged on.  "I mean, we met by chance in a restaurant, became good friends, and then, um, slept with each other... and then I essentially moved in with you and we suddenly promised ourselves to each other.  Don't you think it's all a little..."

I couldn't find the right word to describe it, and she opened an eye.

"So?  That's pretty much how it works with people and things like this," she mumbled sagely.

"But... I mean, after two months?" I pointed out uncertainly.

Aya opened her other eye.

"Then think of it as being destiny."

I couldn't believe in that.

"How can you be so sure about something?  Why do you have so much faith in your idea of me?"

She rolled her head up a bit so that I got a good view of her contemplative expression.  She seemed to be weighing her answer carefully in her head, deciding what the appropriate thing to say was.  It looked like she was ready to start a speech.  A monologue of epic proportions.

She opened her mouth to speak.

"I just do," was all she uttered.

All that preparation for three measly words?  I wanted to know what happened to the other million words in her head, but I couldn't ask.

"Okay..." I conceded softly.

She looked up at me and smiled comfortingly, telling me not to worry about things like that and to just go with what felt right.  When she closed her eyes to get that extra hour of sleep, I wondered what felt right.

Being here felt right.  Being beside her felt right.  Discovering a new world in Tokyo felt right.

What did not feel right was that it all seemed a little too perfect.  I didn't think Aya was lying about her feelings, but I did think there was more to our relationship than I could see.  I just didn't know what it was.

I stayed awake for an hour thinking about this while Aya drifted off to sleep and rolled away from me, almost falling off the bed.  I caught her before she tumbled over and tugged her back to safety, somehow not waking her up.

That hour passed by slowly, and when eight o'clock rolled around, I impatiently shook Aya awake.

"Ah... ah...?"

"Come on, let's get up," I urged her, pulling on her hand.

"Ahh... hug," she mumbled.

Was she asking me for a hug?

I was jolted out of my thought by an arm being thrown around me.  I think she misjudged the force with which she threw that arm, because it hit me hard and made me wince in pain.  The pain was swept away, though, by her rolling into me and hugging me tightly

"You forgot," she mumbled.

"I did?" I asked in an amused tone.

"Mmmmm.  No," she said after some thought.  "But... every day.  Okay?"

"Uh, okay," I replied at this sudden request.

She rolled away and got up, putting her pyjamas back on before walking out of the room as if completely forgetting me.  I scrambled to follow suit.  When I left her room, I saw her in the kitchen starting to boil water for tea.  I went to the living room and spotted the heater.

"Can I turn this on?" I asked.

The apartment was quite cold.  She called out that it was okay and that I didn't have to ask next time, so I put the machine on the highest setting, standing in front of it to warm my shins as I looked through the balcony window.

"We never did decide what we're going to do today," Aya said, making her way over to me after having finished making the tea.

She put two cups on the table and we sat down.  I was eager to stop being a parasitic presence in Aya's life.  I'd only been there for half a day, but I was already starting to feel guilty for being a burden.  Two cups of tea instead of one wasn't a big deal, but things would only get bigger.

"I need to look for a job," I said, taking a sip of the tea.

It was bitterer than I expected, but it warmed me up.

"I know you're all keen about that, but why don't you take a few days off and get to know this place a little more?  Hang out with me a bit."

Was that her ulterior motive?  To spend more time with me?  I laughed in response.

"Am I really that fun to be around?"

She looked thoughtful for a few moments.

"No, not really," she said seriously, and my mouth dropped open.  "But I'm bored waiting for my bosses to make a decision about my future."

She looked at my surprised face and started to laugh as if she'd just made the funniest joke in the world.

"Of course I think you're fun," she inserted in a scolding voice.  "Since when did you start taking me so seriously?"

I laughed along and took another sip of tea.

"Fine, I'll take a rest for a few days."

"Now that we've decided that, what do you want to do today?"

Because many stores were closed and the streets would be packed with holidaying people, we would hold off on anything like shopping or sightseeing.  Aya told me she hadn't been to the shrine yet this year (I didn't ask, but it was probably because she slept in yesterday and then scrambled to get her apartment ready for me), so we came to the decision to go together.

"But to one far away," she said.  "It's too crowded around here."

I wondered if that was because she didn't want to be randomly approached by fans, or if it was simply that she liked to visit shrines in peace.  I didn't ask.  Instead, I asked her what we were going to do for the rest of the day after that, and she gave it some thought.

"You like hot springs, right?"

I nodded.  Of course I did.  She gave it some more thought.

"Bring a change of clothes.  I'll take you to a nice one."

I wondered if "nice one" was code for "super expensive".  Again, I didn't ask.  It probably wasn't.  She knew I was on a tight budget.

I was excited, though.  A hot spring visit was exactly what I needed.  The tension I'd been feeling non-stop for the past few days had drained, but it had left behind actual physical pain in my neck and shoulders.  Nothing serious.  A twinge or two now and then, but it was an unpleasant reminder of my paranoia.

We got ready once we knew what we were doing, ate breakfast quickly, and made off to the train station.  The weather was beautiful.  Clear, not a cloud in the sky.  It was chilly, but the sun would eventually warm everything up once it was at its peak.

We ended up riding trains for over two hours.  So much for trying to save money.  We talked animatedly during the first two short train rides, but we fell asleep, rocked into a shallow slumber by the steady vibrations coming from the third train's engine.

At some point while I'd been dozing off on Aya's shoulder, four university-age boys had gotten onto the train.  They sat opposite to us and a few seats down, and they kept looking over after I woke up.  Amused, I nudged Aya awake.

"Those boys are staring at you," I informed her in a hushed tone.

Aya's eyes shifted over to the bunch for a split second, and then she looked forward with an unaffected air.

"Oh."

But it was too late.  I'd seen a satisfied light grace her eyes.  She liked the attention and would have been perplexed if she hadn't attracted the attention.  I turned my face slightly away so that she didn't see my amused look.  I put my head back on her shoulder in a territorial way and closed my eyes.

"Mine," I declared to the boys in my mind.  "Look, but don't touch."

I drifted off to sleep with a smug smile still on my lips as I imagined the four boys watching, wishing they were me.  I awoke not long after.  I sensed a change, and I was right.  I had leaned over to the other side, but head now resting against a pole.  Aya was awake, and I could see half of her face.  Curiously, I followed her gaze and found that she was looking at the four boys.  Every time one looked over, she'd casually refocus her line of sight slightly to make it look like she was staring out the window.  It was a well-practiced move, which made it obvious she'd had years of experience.  I wondered if she'd looked at me like that in the past two months without my realising it.

I noticed something just then.  The boys weren't staring at her.  They were staring at me.  One looked smitten, the other looked somewhat puzzled, and the other two had unreadable expressions on their faces.  I imagined they would have spared me some glances, me being "the famous girl's friend", but to continually stare at me was a bit strange.  I knew that I could turn heads sometimes, but beside Aya, I would have expected less attention.

My eyesight locked with one of the boys' by accident, and he immediately averted his eyes.  This alerted Aya, and she looked over at me.

"They're staring at me," I said, not really meaning to say anything.

"I was just noticing," Aya replied, sounding neutral.

I wondered if she would get jealous that I was stealing her spotlight.

"You shouldn't question why, though," she continued.  "You're the cutest girl on the train."

I rolled my eyes to get her to stop from saying anything more, but deep down inside, I had a feeling she wanted to say something more serious but was holding back.  She leaned her head back and closed her eyes.  I leaned my head back, too, and closed my eyes after a last look at our audience.  I fell asleep.

Aya shook me awake when we got to our station.  The boys had gotten off before us, and I found it amazing that we would probably never see each other again.  The world was full of people you saw only once in your lifetime.

We got out in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  It reminded me of home, and I wondered why I'd come all the way to Tokyo only to return to a place like mine minus the snow.  We left the train station and I followed Aya.  She seemed to know exactly where she was going.

"How do you know this place?" I asked curiously.

"I used to come here with a friend," she responded with a smile and no more information than that.

I laughed inwardly at how mysterious Aya could be.  Sometimes I had the feeling that she expected me to be able to read her mind.  While I'd been getting used to her pattern of thinking, I couldn't quite read her like an open book yet.  Nakanoko-chan was still easier for me to predict.  Not a surprise since it was two months of friendship versus eight years.

We chatted about New Year's Day as we walked, and I found out just how busy she usually was.  She was always performing on New Year's Eve, so she hadn't had a real chance to spend that holiday in her hometown for many years.

"But it's okay.  My parents sometimes come up to visit me, and there have always been friends nearby for me to celebrate with."

I told her about my New Year celebrations with my family, but they were all the same every year, so there wasn't much variety.  Sometimes something crazier than usual happened, but the overall format of the get togethers each year was the same.

I wondered where I'd spend my next New Year.  In Tokyo?  Or would I go home?

It's January second and I'm already thinking three hundred and sixty-odd days into the future.  Oh man.

As I spoke about my family gatherings, Aya was all ears.  She listened intently to every word I said.  So intently that it made me shake.  It made me self-conscious about the words and phrases I used because I wanted to sound like I knew how to speak naturally.  Several people had complained to me that I didn't speak well.  It wasn't lack of intelligence, but just the way I phrased things.  It was plain and not very expressive.  I wanted to change that for her, however.  She was just the kind of person that made me want to speak from the heart.  From the evening I'd met her, I'd been open with her.  I wasn't quite spewing out poetry yet, but if someone could make me want to, it was her.

I was talking about my cousins when we arrived at the shrine.  There were people milling about, but it wasn't half as busy as the one I'd gone to the day before.  We walked in and bought fortunes.  As I was about to read mine, Aya took it out of my hands and held it up in front of her face

"I'll read yours and you read mine, okay?"

I nodded, wondering if this was a bit of Matsuura family tradition as I took her paper from her.

"I'll read yours first, though, since this is your first of the year," I said.

Yesterday, I'd gotten a fairly good reading.  Not the highest, but I was guaranteed average success throughout the year.  When I opened up Aya's, I laughed.

"Going a day late was lucky.  You've got the best luck," I told her.

She grinned happily, and I read out the predictions for her future.  Work, money, and love would all go smoothly for her.  If the fortune was true, she wouldn't have to worry about her job.  Even if she lost it, something good would come.  As for love... I had no concrete thought.

Aya opened up my fortune and smiled.

"One down on the luck-o-metre from me," she announced.

One step down from her top luck, but one step up from what I'd gotten yesterday.  Not bad.

She read about how spectacular my year was going to be, but how there'd be a delay in starting with the good things.  I gave her a lopsided smile when she suggested that I'd find my dream job next month as opposed to next week, and then live happily every after.

We tied our papers to the board with everyone else's and left the shrine grounds.

"What do you think?  We're going to have a really lucky year?" she asked me as we stepped over the threshold of the shrine.

"Mm," I thought aloud.  "Looks like we'll both have jobs, money, and each other."

She liked my answer because she took my hand and swung it in an exaggerated way.  We walked down the street like that as she hummed one of her own songs.

We found a warm shop for lunch and ate piping hot bowls of spicy noodles before continuing on to the hot spring.

"This place is great.  They have a natural outdoor hot spring," Aya said, launching into an explanation of the place we were going to.  "The service is great, and the massages I've gotten there have been better than most of the super-elite ones I've had in Tokyo."

The more she talked about it, the more I wished we were there already.  I forgot all about saving money and focused solely on what sorts of things we could get done to relax us.

The place was cheap.  The way Aya had been going on about it, I'd almost expected to be putting down the price of a small car.  It turned out that seven hundred yen was enough to grant us access, and that was what I was used to paying.  The massage cost quite a bit more, but I indulged myself.  We booked them for forty-five minutes later and went off to undress.

Maybe someone would have expected us to feel awkward stripping down and bathing together with people all around us considering what we'd done before when we took our clothes off in the same room, but there was none of that.  The bathwater was far too inviting.  We washed up and then sunk into the hot indoor baths to wait for our massages.

"Do you come here often?" I asked, feeling sleepy from the heat.

"Not often enough," she mumbled in a similarly sleepy voice, closing her eyes in satisfaction at the water's temperature.

"Who introduced you this place?" I asked, wondering if it was someone I had heard of from her before.

"Shiba-chan," she replied without missing a beat.

Shiba-chan.  The best friend.

"I'd like to meet her," I blurted out.

She was spoken so highly of that I felt the need to meet her.  I wanted to know more about Aya, and meeting her friends was a very good way to do that.  Seeing the kind of company someone kept could tell you a lot about that someone.

Aya opened her eyes and smiled at me.

"I'd like you to meet her, too."

I nodded and smiled, wondering if she would suggest a time and place to do that, or if it was one of those things that would be left up in the air until an opportunity spontaneously presented itself.

"I'm supposed to go out for lunch with her next week.  Want to come along?"

It seemed like my first option had been correct.

"If I don't have a shift at the convenience store at that time, then sure," I joked.

Working at a convenience store would be horrible.  I'd have to wear one of those monkey uniforms with those hats and be nice and polite to rude people, telling them to please come again to our lovely store.

Aya chuckled at my joke.

"I'll let her know you're coming along.  She's interested in meeting you, too."

"What's she like?" I asked curiously.

Aya crossed her arms and looked up in thought.

"She's really easygoing.  Well-spoken, friendly, helpful.  Brilliant, too.  She has a brain like you wouldn't believe."

She sounded pretty much perfect, which made me nervous about meeting her.

"Did you, uh, tell her anything about me?" I asked.

As in "me", I meant "us", and Aya knew that.  She shook her head.

"I've talked about you, but I haven't had a chance to go into much detail yet."

"But you would?" I asked in surprise.

"Sure.  She's one of my closest friends.  If I can't tell her anything, then the world is hopeless," she laughed.

I hated jealousy, but for a second, I felt jealous.  I wished that I had known Aya for as long as Shiba-chan had.  I wished I was her closest friend.  I wanted that title for me and me alone.  I didn't want to share it with some other girl.  Besides, I had more than Aya's friendship.  Or at least I thought so.

"What did you say about me?" I asked, trying to get out of what could become a miserable mood.

"None of your business," she shot back with a sly look.

I harrumphed, and then she turned serious.

"But actually, I've been meaning to ask you about Hiroshi."

I turned serious, too.  Maybe even glowered.  I was still sore and a bit guilty over the whole thing.

"Yes?" I asked, trying not to sound upset or angry.

"How much did you tell him about us?  About me?"

I sighed.  I could see why she'd be worried.  An offended ex-boyfriend intent on revenge would not be the greatest career booster.  But she was just worried because she didn't know Hiroshi like I did.  No matter how angry he was, he would never ever do such a  malicious - and I'd even call it childish - thing, whether he knew of her fame or not.

"He doesn't know which of the thousands of Ayas in this country you are.  I told him we spent the night together and that I was going to move here.  And that, uh, I really like you..."

That was enough for now.  There was no need to start going into that while in public.

"I hate to ask you this, but can you trust him to keep his mouth shut?  Because it wouldn't take long for him to figure it all out if he ever saw a picture of us together."

A picture of us together?  When would he see one?  She was just being paranoid.

"I trust him with my life," I said truthfully.  "He may have acted like a jerk that night, but he's the kind of guy that will think things through eventually and is not afraid to change his opinion.  He won't stay stuck on one viewpoint - that I'm evil or that whoever 'seduced' me away from him is evil."

Aya breathed out in mild relief.

"Sorry to ask," she said.

I shrugged.  As long as she didn't ask anything more about that night.  I felt so stupid.

"One more question."

Oh no... I thought, but I nodded for her to go on.

She scooted in a bit closer to me and leaned sideways so that her words wouldn't echo in the room.  She had a look on her face that could only be described as hopeful and enthusiastic.

"Do you usually do naughty things when you're asleep?"

I growled and pushed her under the water while she laughed and inhaled the water, resurfacing with sputtering snorts and coughs.

"Ahem!" came a voice from behind us.

We froze and looked up.  There was an elderly woman walking by, and it looked like she was one of those disgruntled types that did not appreciate a little rowdy laughter during her bath.  We both apologised and settled down, shooting each other looks until the lady had disappeared, at which point we burst into fits of giggles.

"I hope I don't turn into an old woman like her," I sniffed.

"I hope that if I do, I won't encounter any young, noisy girls like us in a bathhouse," Aya retorted cleverly.

I laughed at her reasoning, and we settled down.  Aya looked pensive, and just as I was about to ask her what she was thinking, she turned to me.

"Since chocolate is like an aphrodisiac, if you eat it right before going to bed, do you think that you'll have vivid dreams that'll make you want to-"

"Aya!" I hissed, putting my hand on top of her head and shoving her down under the water.

In the past few days she had shocked me with the extent of her sexual appetite.  It seemed limitless.  We'd never really spoken of such things, but suddenly, after spending one night with her, our conversations were laced with innuendos, and suggestive looks spilled out from her like waterfalls at every opportunity.  I wondered if she'd undergone some sort of transformation over the days, or if it was simply that she'd hidden this layer of her personality from me.  Either way, it took some getting used to, but it was definitely a fun thing.

She struggled under the water, and I let her come up for air.  She was still laughing, not at all showing that she was perturbed about being drowned twice by me until she spoke.

"You are so dead after this.  I'm going to do something so horrible to you that you'll wish you could not just work but also live in a convenience store.  When I'm through with you..." she said with an evil chuckle.

"When you're through with me?" I asked, this time inserting my own suggestive look into the mix.  "Please, bring it on."

She looked surprised that I'd finally raised my fists and started to play her game, but she quickly replaced it with a satisfied smirk.

"Fine, I will."

We nodded at each other in a businesslike way, and I snuck a glance at the clock.

"But not till after our massages.  It's almost time," I told her.

We got out of the bath and got dressed again, making our way down the hall and into the massage room.

We were able to get two cots side-by-side, and after we were asked what parts of the body in particular we needed treated, we lay ourselves down and relaxed.  Sometimes our heads were turned towards each other, and we'd lie there exchanging looks or just staring at each other with no purpose.

After the best hour-long massage I had ever received in my entire life, we stumbled wearily back to the baths and sat outside.  The winter air kept our faces cool, but the water we were submerged in kept our bodies pleasantly warm.  We sat there, chatting and occasionally splashing water on our own shoulders to warm them up.

Before we knew it, the sun began to go down.  Early sunsets in the winter were useful because they indicated that there was still a little more time before one had to go home.  We wouldn't miss our last train.

"Did you have a good day?" Aya asked me as we sat for the final moments of our bath.

I nodded.

"Thanks for bringing me here.  It's just what I needed."

I felt even more relaxed than I had the night before when Aya and I had talked.

"I feel refreshed, too.  Thanks for coming with me."

We watched the sun's light diminish a slight bit more, and with satisfied but slightly melancholic sighs, we got out of the bath and went to get changed.

We took our time getting ready (well, Aya took more of her time, which also meant she took up my time, too, since we were there together), and found our way back to the train station.  It was very cold outside, the temperature having dropped along with the sun, but we were warm from the hot spring and from being together.  We distracted each other from the unpleasant coldness.

When we got on the train, a hush settled over us.  We sat in peaceful, meditative silence before dozing off all the way to our train transfer.  We somehow found our way back to Aya's place without too much trouble.  We didn't oversleep on any of the trains, which was a miracle.

When we got into the apartment and as if by telepathic agreement, we both dragged our feet into her bedroom, changed into pyjamas, and collapsed onto her bed in two exhausted heaps of flesh and bone.  We pulled the warm covers over our bodies and fell asleep.  The combined effects of heat and a massage had beaten the life out of us in a pleasant way, and our journey into the next day passed with no grand statements or actions.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on June 28, 2007, 02:44:48 AM
I wasn't quite spewing out poetry yet, but if someone could make me want to, it was her.
[cheesy]This line is so sweet, you could bake a cake with it! :inlove:[/cheesy] Of course, it's not as "sweet" as Aya's chocolate line. :P

Also, I assume that the fortunes are foreshadowing? Or, perhaps they sound too good to be true anyway? xD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on June 28, 2007, 05:43:05 AM
Quote
"You lied to me," I accused her, my first words of the day coming out in a scratchy voice.

"Eh?" she asked, yawning and rubbing her eyes innocently, turning onto her side to mirror my position.  "About what?"

She didn't seem particularly concerned about anything.

"You told me not to worry about the sun in the morning," I said, my voice gaining a little more smoothness.  "The window may face west, but your curtains suck."
Dude don't SCARE me like that at the start of a chapter!  :sweat:


Quote
It looked like it was going to work out perfectly.  The only thing left to find out was whether or not we could live together for more than one day without driving each other up the wall.
God I love this part! :lol:


Quote
"Our whole association," I forged on.  "I mean, we met by chance in a restaurant, became good friends, and then, um, slept with each other... and then I essentially moved in with you and we suddenly promised ourselves to each other.  Don't you think it's all a little..."

...

"So?  That's pretty much how it works with people and things like this," she mumbled sagely.

"But... I mean, after two months?" I pointed out uncertainly.
Miki still has some doubts about the whole situation. She wants to believe in it wholeheartedly, but that mind of hers (probably from having been in university and from having known a studious person like Hiroshi) just keeps workin' when it doesn't really have to.   :bigdeal:


Quote
"How can you be so sure about something?  Why do you have so much faith in your idea of me?"

She rolled her head up a bit so that I got a good view of her contemplative expression.  She seemed to be weighing her answer carefully in her head, deciding what the appropriate thing to say was.  It looked like she was ready to start a speech.  A monologue of epic proportions.

She opened her mouth to speak.

"I just do," was all she uttered.
There are some things in life that you just can't explain and that you just can't analyze. There are some things in life where you just have to go completely on what you feel. It's one of those things where, when you have it/know it/feel it, that's all you need. Nothing else is required.  For Aya, Miki is one of those things.

Besides, Aya can't exactly say that in another reality she and Miki were already a couple and that THAT Miki went missing and all and that THAT'S why she went to Hokkaido and blah blah blah (you get the point). :D


Quote
"Come on, let's get up," I urged her, pulling on her hand.

"Ahh... hug," she mumbled.

Was she asking me for a hug?

...

"You forgot," she mumbled.

"I did?" I asked in an amused tone.

"Mmmmm.  No," she said after some thought.
"But... every day.  Okay?"
Uh-oh...that was probably something the "other" Miki and her did. Aya's gonna let something slip that she shouldn't, if she's not careful.


Quote
"You like hot springs, right?"

I nodded.  Of course I did.  She gave it some more thought.

"Bring a change of clothes.  I'll take you to a nice one."

I wondered if "nice one" was code for "super expensive".  Again, I didn't ask.  It probably wasn't.  She knew I was on a tight budget.
Aya would probably be more than willing to foot the whole bill so long as Miki's actually there.


Quote
At some point while I'd been dozing off on Aya's shoulder, four university-age boys had gotten onto the train.  They sat opposite to us and a few seats down, and they kept looking over after I woke up.  Amused, I nudged Aya awake.

"Those boys are staring at you," I informed her in a hushed tone.

...

I put my head back on her shoulder in a territorial way and closed my eyes.

"Mine," I declared to the boys in my mind.  "Look, but don't touch."
That's the spirit! Lay your claim, Miki!  :pimp:


Quote
My eyesight locked with one of the boys' by accident, and he immediately averted his eyes.  This alerted Aya, and she looked over at me.

"They're staring at me," I said, not really meaning to say anything.

"I was just noticing," Aya replied, sounding neutral.

I wondered if she would get jealous that I was stealing her spotlight.

"You shouldn't question why, though," she continued.  "You're the cutest girl on the train."
Well, if the guys recognized Aya, then they would suspect that this "mystery-girl" must be pretty damn special to be traveling with her like this. That, and what Aya said.  :love:

Oh, and before I forget...what Aya said? Awwwwwwwww!  :inlove:


Quote
We got out in a small town in the middle of nowhere.  It reminded me of home, and I wondered why I'd come all the way to Tokyo only to return to a place like mine minus the snow.  We left the train station and I followed Aya.  She seemed to know exactly where she was going.
Hakone? It's got to be.


Quote
Several people had complained to me that I didn't speak well.  It wasn't lack of intelligence, but just the way I phrased things.  It was plain and not very expressive.  I wanted to change that for her, however.  She was just the kind of person that made me want to speak from the heart.  From the evening I'd met her, I'd been open with her.  I wasn't quite spewing out poetry yet, but if someone could make me want to, it was her.
Miki shouldn't feel the need to "speak better" for Aya's sake. As long as Miki speaks from the heart, that's all Aya needs.


Quote
"What do you think?  We're going to have a really lucky year?" she asked me as we stepped over the threshold of the shrine.

"Mm," I thought aloud.  "Looks like we'll both have jobs, money, and each other."
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!  :wub: :wub: :wub:


Quote
I've been meaning to ask you about Hiroshi."

I turned serious, too.  Maybe even glowered.  I was still sore and a bit guilty over the whole thing.

"Yes?" I asked, trying not to sound upset or angry.

"How much did you tell him about us?  About me?"
Well, even though Aya's already forgiven Miki for what happened with Hiroshi after she left, it's still only natural that she'd be curious as to what/how much Miki told him, as well as how he replied/reacted to it all.


Quote
"I hate to ask you this, but can you trust him to keep his mouth shut?  Because it wouldn't take long for him to figure it all out if he ever saw a picture of us together."

A picture of us together?  When would he see one?  She was just being paranoid.
Hah, this Miki still doesn't know/realize how ruthless the world of celebrity is.

Oh shit, dude you're not gonna... :shocked:


Quote
"I trust him with my life," I said truthfully.  "He may have acted like a jerk that night, but he's the kind of guy that will think things through eventually and is not afraid to change his opinion.  He won't stay stuck on one viewpoint - that I'm evil or that whoever 'seduced' me away from him is evil."
And if he doesn't turn out to be that trustworthy, Miki could always just go back and kill him.  O0


Quote
"Do you usually do naughty things when you're asleep?"

I growled and pushed her under the water while she laughed and inhaled the water, resurfacing with sputtering snorts and coughs.

...

Aya looked pensive, and just as I was about to ask her what she was thinking, she turned to me.

"Since chocolate is like an aphrodisiac, if you eat it right before going to bed, do you think that you'll have vivid dreams that'll make you want to-"

"Aya!" I hissed, putting my hand on top of her head and shoving her down under the water.
Oooooooooooooooooooooh naughty, naughty Aya having naughty thoughts in the hot spring!  :whistle: :kekeke:


Quote
"You are so dead after this.  I'm going to do something so horrible to you that you'll wish you could not just work but also live in a convenience store.  When I'm through with you..." she said with an evil chuckle.

"When you're through with me?" I asked, this time inserting my own suggestive look into the mix.  "Please, bring it on."
*whispering* Ohshioki kibonnu!

*does OAD*



Quote
We took our time getting ready (well, Aya took more of her time, which also meant she took up my time, too, since we were there together), and found our way back to the train station.
Aya can't be rushed, after all.  :hee:


Quote
We distracted each other from the unpleasant coldness.
So THAT'S what they're calling it nowadays. No one else was around, right? :twisted:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on June 28, 2007, 10:31:15 AM
Also, I assume that the fortunes are foreshadowing? Or, perhaps they sound too good to be true anyway? xD
Hmm... maybe.  Hahaha!

Quote
Uh-oh...that was probably something the "other" Miki and her did. Aya's gonna let something slip that she shouldn't, if she's not careful.
Yes!  It was mentioned right here in the first paragraph. (http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11131.msg366345#msg366345) (From Love x 2 - 1)  More of my connecting fun.
I feel that this story really needs an Aya POV sometimes.  Hahaha.

Quote
Hakone? It's got to be.
Hahaha, oops.  I accidentally neglected to mention that they headed north, not south.  It's just what I had in mind when writing.  (I briefly considered sending them to Hakone, but that would be better left for a short vacation of a few days, not one afternoon.)

Quote
Hah, this Miki still doesn't know/realize how ruthless the world of celebrity is.

Oh shit, dude you're not gonna... :shocked:
There you go again assuming the worst.  Hahaha!  My lips are sealed.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on June 28, 2007, 11:32:46 AM


"You shouldn't question why, though," she continued.  "You're the cutest girl on the train."



This line reminded me of Miki's typhoon story about the taxi driver :lol: but it was cute nonetheless.

Anyways, yeah, I bet there's some disgrace reserved for these two in the few next chapters, wether it's a panda crushing them or an anvil falling on their heads.

The guys staring at Miki in the train got me curious, was it just because she's cute? did Aya paint a mustache on her face while sleeping or what?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: nkca_ on July 01, 2007, 02:34:28 PM
The guys staring at Miki in the train got me curious, was it just because she's cute? did Aya paint a mustache on her face while sleeping or what?

yeah i also found it weird, i mean is Miki it's obvious you would look but considering the situation and that Aya is the famous one....anyway i loved the last chapter, it kind of made me happy, ah  almost forgot....please, bring it on
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on July 01, 2007, 10:19:37 PM
i would feel more complete if you write Aya's POV of this chapter xD :roll:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Tinnygy on July 02, 2007, 08:13:52 AM
@OTN1: your mind is amazing  :lol: . I just thought about why don't you write a story about Aya and Miki without base on their real career? I love your fics so much and I want to see many more of your creative works!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 03, 2007, 09:31:04 AM
Hahaha, actually, I just finished reading a book where in one brief scene, a grandmother painted a fake moustache on her sleeping granddaughter.  I got a big kick out of it.  Unfortunately, the granddaughter wasn't asleep on a train, but at home.

Thanks, Tinnygy.  And hey, I've already stolen Miki's career away from her and made her start working as- oops, I almost gave it away.  Hah, stay tuned soon...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 03, 2007, 10:39:25 AM
Chapter 9

The following few days passed by eventfully.

The next day - a Sunday - Aya was ordered to her boss' office.  She got a call early in the morning, and she'd reluctantly dragged herself out of bed and into suitable meeting clothes.  In the short time I'd spent with her, I'd grown attached and didn't want her to leave.

"Go find a job," she teased me as my hand weakly tried to grab a hold of her skirt and pull her back to me before she left.

I was successful in pulling her over to stand by the bed, but I did nothing else.  What could I do?  I was half asleep and she had to leave.  She bent down and kissed my forehead.

"I'll leave an extra key by the door.  Don't forget to use it," she said, and with that, she was gone.

I got up half an hour later and sent her an e-mail, to which she didn't reply.  She was probably in a meeting.  I got ready for the day and quickly dropped by the convenience store to buy a newspaper.  When I went to pay for it, the cashier gave me a friendly smile, as opposed to the robotic acknowledgement most people at convenience stores gave customers.

"Hi," he said as he began to ring up my purchase.

"Hi," I greeted him politely, wondering if all Family Mart employees in Tokyo were required to treat their customers like old mates from junior high school.

I paid, and with a "thanks", I left the store feeling good.

I got back to Aya's apartment, sitting down on the floor and spreading the newspaper's classified advertisements out in front of me.  There was nothing suitable available for me.  Nobody wanted someone with a partially finished degree in economics.  Nobody wanted an ex-waitress to work for them.  Also, I didn't want to work as an office lady at some second rate company office (which would probably be an easy job for me to get if I played nice in the interview).  I wanted something challenging.  Something that didn't have me doing the same thing over and over every minute of the day.

I sighed and grabbed my things.  It was time to go out into the field.

I wandered around the neighbourhood.  I spotted one "help wanted" sign, but I didn't have the qualifications to be a hair stylist.  I had to forego it.  I sighed and skipped over to Shinagawa on the train, wandering around the shopping centres.  There was nothing.  I couldn't even find a "help wanted" sign for a waitress job, which I would take to at least tide me over until I found something better.  I was pulled out of my bad mood by my phone ringing.  Aya had sent me an e-mail back.

That fortune slip was right.  I get to keep my job!  More details when I see you.  Where are you?

I smiled, happy for her, and incredibly relieved that she didn't lose her job because she was off having fun with me.  I wrote back.

Good.  At least one of us is having luck.  I'm job hunting nearby.  Nothing so far.  Know any places that want to hire a university dropout?

Her reply came quickly.

Have you tried offices?  I've found that a lot don't advertise that they need help.

I sighed.  Not the kind of job I wanted, but it was useful to know that there might be something out there that I just couldn't see.

I'll try that.  Thanks, I wrote.

Aya sent one last e-mail.

I'm going home now.  I'll see you later.  Let's go somewhere for dinner!

That wrapped up our communication for the time being.  At least I had something to look forward to - dinner.  It was hardly anything new, but she would probably take me to some tasty place or her favourite hangout, and it would be my first real meal in Tokyo since getting there.

I spent the afternoon wandering around Shinagawa, but not just searching for work.  I did a bit of browsing around the shops and the department stores.  I found no job, but I did see a shop I wanted to inspect further once I was settled and had a source of income.  It looked like it had been constructed for me personally.  Anything I would ever want to wear was hanging on the hooks in the small establishment.  So although I went back to Aya's place unemployed, I at least found yet another incentive to find a job.

I rang the doorbell when I got to Aya's.  I had a key, but I felt weird just walking in.  She came over and opened the door, rolling her eyes the minute she laid them on me and muttering something about how spare keys weren't just for show and were useful for something.  When I tried to give it back, she insisted on my keeping it.  She didn't specify how long I should keep it, but I put it in my mind to give it back once I moved out.

We sat down, and she explained what had happened.  Her boss had fought hard for her and had had the rest of the top heads of her music label admit that they needed Aya no matter what.  They had said she could stay, but they slapped her with a heavy warning that if she ever pulled any silly stunt like that again, they'd have no second thoughts about dumping her from their label.  She had received yet another stern lecture for an hour about the rules of the company, and she'd been made to promise to apologise to all the people involved in the Italy project that had not gone through.

"They were probably so lenient because the public didn't know about this project.  It was going to be one of those surprises that caught everyone off guard and then sucked them in.  If the country had known that Matsuura Aya was going to Italy to train, I would have been shot for deserting," she laughed.

Amused she may have been, but the idea of Aya being shot (even just metaphorically) made me sad.

"I'm glad you got to keep your job," I said quietly, not laughing along, and she smiled gratefully.

"What about you?" she asked.  "Any luck since we last talked?"

I shook my head.

"I checked some offices, but it's a little hard to just walk in and say 'hey, need help?'"

She nodded sympathetically.

"Well, it was only your first day," she said a little unnecessarily.  "Maybe you'll have more luck tomorrow."

She put a comforting hand on my shoulder and kept it there as we sat in silence, thinking about our own situations.  Maybe she was right.  Maybe her extremely lucky fortune slip had assured her that she'd get her job back with hardly any problems, while my own job would take some time to find.

"But now, let's go out to eat and celebrate."

We got up and went out for dinner.  She took me to an extremely expensive Thai food restaurant that she said she loved and ate at whenever she had an excuse to.  She told me in a confident tone that I'd enjoy it.  As we sat down and looked at menus, my heartbeat quickened when I saw the prices.  This was no place for me to be eating.  I didn't say a word, though, because I didn't want to ruin her thought-out dinner plans.  I chose the cheapest thing on the menu and asked for water.  Aya eyed me curiously.

"Water?"

I nodded.

"Water."

When she placed her order, she ordered cocktails for us, and I smiled cautiously, thanking her for thinking of me.

"And by the way, this dinner is free of charge," she said.

I wondered how that was possible.

"Do you know the owner or something?" I asked.

She shook her head.

"I don't know him.  This is from me."

I sighed and was about to tell her not to start doing this kind of thing, but she raised a hand for my silence.

"I wasn't able to give you a Christmas present," she said, reminding me both that I'd spent Christmas with Hiroshi and that I'd given her the stupidest gift.

I groaned inside and winced.  I wondered if she would even use the gift.

"Oven mitts don't equal dinner at the most expensive restaurant in this region," I mumbled, accidentally letting my opinion of the restaurant slip out.

She slapped my hand a little harder than I thought she would, and she gave me a sharp look.

"It's not supposed to be an equal trade," she reprimanded me.  "It's the thought that counts."

She sounded so angry.

"But..." I started, and her look hardened as if daring me to say something to oppose her opinion. 

I shrunk back and shut my mouth.

"If you don't want to be here, then you can go, but then you'll also be short one living space."

"If I don't let you buy me dinner, you'll kick me out of your apartment?" I asked in disbelief.

She nodded and then laughed.

"Do people usually have to threaten you before you'll accept a gift?"

"No," I sighed, "but I just don't want you to feel like you're obligated to give me anything or help me out with money.  I don't want to be a burden or a moocher."

"You're not a burden," Aya said quickly.  "You're really not.  I'm always here to help you.  Don't let your pride get in the way of common sense.  If you need help, you can always ask me.  I'd much rather you do that then suffer and get into situations that are hard to solve."

Drop the pride.  Ask for help.  Trust her.  She was asking a lot, but I had to try.

I thanked her, apologised, and thanked her again.  I made sure to relax and enjoy every bite of the delicious and late Christmas present.  We made a toast to Aya for getting to keep her job and to me for moving to a new city in pursuit of a new life.

When we got home later that evening, we were all partied out.  It was rather ridiculous that two young people like us would have gotten exhausted from dinner, but we couldn't stop ourselves from going to bed by eleven o'clock.  My eyes drooped shut as we lay there on our backs, side-by-side under the covers.  Aya seemed restless, however.  She started tapping out a rhythm with one finger on the back of my hand.

"What?" I asked her.

"Nothing," she replied quickly.

Who had given her coffee before bedtime?  She couldn't stop tapping out the rhythm.

"Uh..." I started.

I didn't mind her being restless, but tapping my hand repeatedly like a drum was a little weird.

"Sorry."

She stopped tapping and turned onto her stomach, breathing quietly, apparently calm.

My mind started to slip down a slide, descending into a pillowy bed of clouds...

Aya coughed and cleared her throat loudly.  My eyes snapped open, and she shifted a bit, her elbow brushing my shoulder.  When I closed my eyes again, she flipped onto her back.  When I opened my eyes, she rolled onto her side and faced me.  I turned my head to look at her, but her eyes were closed, so I looked back up at the ceiling.  As I was staring up and trying to imagine a starry sky, I noticed her eyes open, so I looked towards her again.  She closed her eyes quickly before she could be caught staring, and I thought that she was either dying to tell me something important or having some sort of strange, prolonged seizure.  I kept my eyes on her until she opened her eyes again, looking at me sheepishly.

Was she playing a game?  Was she not tired?

"What's up?" I asked, putting sleep on hold.

"I can't sleep," she said like a child.

"I noticed that," I snickered.  "Why?  Are you cold?"

I pulled the blanket up a bit more.

"No," she said with a shake of the head.  "I'm excited.

I raised my eyebrows.

"I'm just glad you're here," she admitted.  "I don't want you to go back to Hokkaido."

For reasons unfathomable to me, she cared so much.  It gave me so much hope.  I couldn't ever doubt what she felt when she went along saying things like this out of the blue.

"Me too."

I have to find a job tomorrow, I thought.

Even if it was just waitressing, I needed to show her that I was serious about staying in Tokyo.  I thought that part of her might grow worried if I did nothing to start finding my niche here.  If I got a job, an apartment, and made friends, she would see that I really wanted to stay.

"Tomorrow I'll find a job," I promised her.

Maybe she'd be able to get to sleep with that promise.  I took her hand and squeezed it.

"Mmm," she acknowledged.

We spoke no more than night, and we went to sleep.

The second eventful day passed by.  Aya woke me up by drying her hair.  Now that she was back, she had a job to do, and that meant waking up early in the morning.  I figured I may as well get out of bed and join her in getting ready for the day.

She launched into a list of things she had to do, but I didn't pay attention.  I was busy using her computer to look at a map of the neighbourhood.  I caught the words "filming" and "conference", so I assumed she'd be off doing some sort of "I'm Ayaya and I'm alive after these two months!" TV appearance.

She came by to say goodbye to me, but I only gave her a wave over my shoulder, too engrossed in what I was looking at for it to click in my mind that I wouldn't see her until late that night.  She pulled me back into the world literally by grabbing me and hefting me up awkwardly to stand in front of her, twisting me around and then hugging me.  It all happened in a blur, so I reacted instinctually and hugged back.  She pulled back and then leaned in to kiss me, at which point I deftly slipped out of her grasp, avoiding her and her poisonous lips, sitting back down on the floor and returning to scrutinising the map.  I hoped she hadn't noticed how shy and embarrassed I felt.  Of course she did.

"I estimate seven more days till you stop freaking out every time I get close to you," she announced.

"What?  I don't freak out," I said defensively, looking up at her.

She suddenly crouched down right beside me and stuck her nose against mine, making me pull back in surprise.

"Yes you do.  See?"

I rolled my eyes while trying to put some distance between us.

"Whatever's holding you back, though, cut it off.  It's not getting you anywhere."

She grinned, stuck her tongue out, and licked my nose.  I scrunched it up.

"You have a strange way of expressing your love," I stated with a glower.

"Oh, come on.  As if you wouldn't do that," she laughed.

Funny, she was right.  I would do the same kind of thing... if I'd known her longer than two months.  It was too early, though, to do that kind of thing and expect her to find it endearing.  But maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I could be my normal, weird self.  Maybe I should.

Aya patted me on the back, said goodbye, and left.  I sighed and hoped I hadn't offended her too much.

I went job hunting for the entire day.  I faced failure after failure.  I even went into a restaurant and offered my skills as a waitress or a chef, claiming that I could mix a mean cocktail and whip up the tastiest Hokkaido-style nikujaga.  The elderly owner gave me a wary send-off.

I took a break for lunch at a convenience store, sitting outside and eating quickly to keep from freezing.  It may have been warmer than Hokkaido, but cold weather was still cold weather.  To me, winter had only two settings – unbearably cold and even colder, each as bad as the other.

The afternoon was a flop.  My feet began to hurt from all the wandering and standing in one spot.  I couldn't find a job.  I headed back to Aya's apartment, completely dejected.  Before I crossed over to the main road, I dropped in at the 7-Eleven to pick up a snack to tide me over until dinner time.

As I stood in line, I read the various posters on the walls.  Nakashima Mika had a concert tour coming up in the spring, and I intended to go.  I hadn't listened to her latest album, but I'd spied it on Aya's shelf that morning.  I would definitely have a listen when I had a spare moment.  There was also an advertisement for some sort of winter illumination festival happening in Ebisu, and I wondered if it would be a good thing to go to.  I'd never seen the winter illumination in Tokyo, which was supposed to be world famous.  Then a help wanted sign caught my eye.

Wanted: Cheerful, enthusiastic youths for part time jobs.  Reasonable hours.  Great pay.  Start immediately.  Become part of the 7-Eleven team!.

It was my turn to pay.  I put my things down on the counter, and before I could stop myself, I opened my mouth and asked, "What would I have to do to get a job here?"

I pointed to the sign.  The cashier, a girl who looked around my age, looked at the sign and then looked back me.

"Um, bring your resumé and talk to our manager," she replied helpfully.

Simple.

I thanked her, paid for my snack, and left.

No.  I can't get a job at a convenience store, I scolded myself.  I can do better.

And yet I found myself going back to Aya's, printing out a copy of my resumé from the disc I'd brought, and walking back to the store I'd seen the sign at.

I'd worked at a convenience store when I'd gotten out of high school, so I had a good idea of how things worked in such stores.  My store had been a Family Mart, but they were all the same in the end.

I went back into the 7-Eleven.  The same girl wasn't surprised to see me, and she called the manager upon my request.

The manager, Fukuda, was younger than I'd expected.  I guessed he was in his mid-thirties.  He studied me carefully as I spoke, and he glanced at my resumé as I explained that I'd just moved to Tokyo a few days ago and had free time on my hands.  He listened some more and asked a few questions about my experience and whether I'd feel confident adapting to 7-Eleven after having worked at a Family Mart for almost two years.  What kind of fool searching for a job would say he wasn't confident?  I assured him I'd be okay, and I suddenly had a job without any check of credentials.  Fukuda told me that since I knew how to work the till, I'd probably only need a day or two of training to accustom myself to 7-Eleven's particular system and procedures.  He asked if I could come in the next day, and I said that I could.

An hour and a half later, I was walking back to the apartment with my new uniform shirt, a folder full of papers related to procedure, and a mind full of "are you stupid?!" thoughts running around.

I got back just past six and e-mailed Aya to tell her I was waiting.  She said she'd be back in about an hour, so I decided to run a bath and relax.  I sat in it for about half an hour, letting the hot water cure me of my aches and pains.  Before I could fall asleep, I got out, dried myself, and went off to get dressed.  Spotting my work shirt, I decided to quickly try it on to make sure it was the right size.  I went out to the entrance to look in the mirror, and while I stood there making sure I looked all right, the door opened and in walked Aya carrying a bag of groceries.  She noticed me right away and stopped in the middle of kicking her shoes off, staring at me.

"It's just a temporary thing until I can find a real job," I explained quickly.

She studied me and then walked over slowly.

"It's cute," she said finally, and she moved off to the kitchen.

Cute?  The uniform was cute?  No it wasn't.  It was hideous.  And didn't she have anything else to add?  An opinion?  A question as to how I'd gotten the job?

"Hey," I said, following her to the refrigerator, where she paused in putting away her recent purchases.

"Mmhmm?"

"Don't you think it's dumb?  Like, me working at 7-Eleven?"

She shook her head.

"I know you'll keep looking for something else," she smiled.

"I will," I reinforced.  "It's just that I saw the help wanted sign, and I used to work at a convenience store..."

Aya stood up and traced the company's emblem on my shirt, making me blush.

"I know it's not your dream to work at 7-Eleven for the rest of your life.  I don't think you're any less cool because you've got a part time job there."

I smiled and sighed.

"There you go lying and making me feel all good about myself."

She punched my arm in an ungentle way, and I rubbed it.

"Now go change!" she barked.  "You're going to cook for me!"

I laughed at her order, but I went to change into my pyjamas, folding my shirt carefully and putting it with my clean clothes.

Seeing that the bath was full, she decided to take a bath while I cooked.  We each took our sweet time.  By the time I finished preparing the nikujaga I claimed to be so good at making, Aya had gotten dressed in her pyjamas.

Pyjamas at eight pm and before dinner?  How very geriatric of us.

We sat down, turned on the television set, and chatted as we ate my delicious meal.  She loved it more than the Thai food we'd eaten the day before, or so she said.

"If you can cook for me every night, you can stay with me as many years as you want."

I laughed giddily, tempted to take her up on her offer.  We were interrupted an hour later by a phone call.  Aya took it, and for five minutes she sat there scheduling.  When she hung up, she told me that Shibata had had to cancel her Tuesday plans, but that that we'd meet up with her next weekend.  That worked perfectly for me since it turned out I was going to have a shift at the convenience store.  My joke had turned into reality.

We spent the rest of the night talking on the couch, where we fell asleep.  We woke up soon and dragged ourselves to the bed, where we proceeded to fall into it in a messy pile of limbs, falling back asleep almost instantly.


My new part time job was easy.  My training lasted only three hours.  I was quick on the uptake and was ringing up customers' purchases by lunch time.  Fukuda was full of praise for me.

On the day of my first real shift, I found myself working with Kuniko, the girl who had helped me the other day.  She ended up being very friendly.  We became instant friends - or at least we mutually agreed in thinking that the other wasn't bad.

Kuniko was two years younger than me, born and raised in Chiba, and was currently doing an MA at Waseda University.  A true brain with a pretty face and a pleasant, outgoing disposition.  She had been working at this particular 7-Eleven for a year, this part time job preceded by a year at Lawson.

I told her the basics of myself, and she was surprised to hear that I'd moved all the way from Hokkaido.

"Have you got a decent place to stay?" she asked while we stood at the cash register, the manager in the back office and the store empty of customers.

"My friend's putting me up until I can find my own place," I explained.  "It's a nice place, but I feel bad because she's really busy.  There I am hanging around with all this free time."

Kuniko nodded sympathetically and then clapped her hands.

"You need a welcome party!"

"I'm not really into..." I trailed off, but stopped.

If Kuniko could become my friend, that would be perfect.  And a party meant I could make more friends.  Then I'd be able to reassure Aya that I would stay here.

"Nothing big.  We can go out for dinner and a few drinks.  We've got an awesome team at this store.  We're lucky.  And we've got some other friends we can invite.  Kind of like a 'welcome to the neighbourhood' party!"

One thing led to another and suddenly I'd made plans with Kuniko to go out on Friday night.  We exchanged contact information, and before I knew it, I'd made my second friend from Tokyo.  We ended our shifts at the same time that day, but she went on ahead of me because I had to talk with the manager.

Fukuda praised me some more, telling me I was doing an excellent job.  He told me to keep it up, and then he sent me off.  I left the store feeling happier than I ever thought I could working at a convenience store.

I got home that evening and cooked before Aya came back.  When she did, the first words out of her mouth were: "That smells delicious!"

We sat and dined.  I told her all about my day and how Fukuda had praised me and how nothing had tripped me up, even the French couple that had come in trying to buy stamps without understanding a single word of Japanese.  When I told her about Kuniko, I became shy because I realised I sounded like an elementary school student gushing to her parents about her first day at school and her first friend.  I finished up quickly by saying that my welcoming party was on Friday night.

"I'm glad you made a friend," Aya smiled, and I felt like even more of a child.  "And good thing you made plans for Friday night.  I was feeling bad before I heard that because I'm being dragged to some formal dinner event by my boss."

I wondered how many of these events she had to attend and whether I'd ever be able to go with her to one.  Probably not.  But maybe she could get me on the invite list one day.  I was so curious what she was like when mixed with all those celebrities.  To me, she wasn't a celebrity like them.  The thought that she was famous made me giggle.  She was a regular girl.  No, not regular.  Of course not regular. She was special.  But not a snobby celebrity.

"I don't envy you," I teased her, sticking my tongue out.  "I'm sure my event will be much more relaxed."

She sighed.

"You're right.  And they'll probably give me glass after glass of champagne just to knock me down and make me do silly things they can talk about for months to come."

Aya drunk?  I wondered what that was like.  I hadn't seen her get anything beyond a little tipsy, which just meant she was extra giggly and silly.

"That's okay.  They'll probably give me glass after glass of beer in order to see how long the tough Hokkaido girl can hold out."

Not as long as they might have expected.

"And then the next day we're supposed to meet Shiba-chan," Aya groaned, suddenly remembering.

"Not till one o'clock, right?  We'll make sure to get to bed early and to have some good painkillers close at hand."

Planning for our hangovers was a new thing for us.

"Always thinking about the future," Aya said, ruffling my hair, de-aging me yet another year.

"Anyway, what about you?  How was your day?" I asked, remembering she'd mentioned filming.

"There was a big meeting in the morning where we all got our stories straight about my absence, and then I had a press conference with the media.  They all wanted to know where I'd gone."

"What did you tell them?" I asked, in awe of how entire companies could pull together to make up a huge story about one girl.

"Mostly the truth.  That I'd gone up to Hokkaido, but that it had been for an inspirational retreat.  Getting in touch with nature and all that."

It sounded appropriate.  We had done a lot of hiking.

"And what did you film?" I asked.

"Oh, some stations did a bit of interviewing.  Nothing big.  If you wake up early tomorrow morning, you'll see it on the news," she shrugged.

We stopped talking about work because it simply wasn't as fun as talking about other things.  We kept busy until bedtime. 

Later at night when Aya was fast asleep, I remained awake, shivering from the cold, covers pulled up to my nose.  I was squeezed between the wall and Aya's back.  Ever so carefully, I latched onto the sleeping form in front of me, trying to steal some of her body heat.  She shifted a bit as if trying to shake me off but then stopped as though it wasn't worth the effort.  I closed my eyes and tried not to think about the cold, listening to her slow heartbeat and cursing why I felt perfectly at ease when she was asleep and couldn't witness my affectionate nature.  When she was awake, it was much more difficult.  She was almost intimidating.

As I lay there holding this living, breathing human being, I had a revelation.  I had to get over this other complex of mine.  My fear of Aya.  She'd proven countless times that she wasn't being wishy-washy with her feelings.  It was time to start really trusting her.  I looked down at her peaceful face.  Starting at that exact moment, I'd let go of my fears and inhibitions.  When she woke up in the morning, she'd see a relaxed, natural me.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 04, 2007, 03:47:00 AM
Hahaha, actually, I just finished reading a book where in one brief scene, a grandmother painted a fake moustache on her sleeping granddaughter.  I got a big kick out of it.  Unfortunately, the granddaughter wasn't asleep on a train, but at home.

Ha, fake moustaches are nothing! Red lipstick kiss marks are worse, far worse!  :rofl:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on July 04, 2007, 05:50:39 AM
Awe, Miki working at a 7-11 sounds cute! I'd go and visit her everyday . . .  :wub:

Um. Anyway.

I'm glad Aya kept her job and such. They would have been in trouble if she had! :O Also, it's really strange to read about Miki being shy for some reason. I'm so used to the other Miki, I guess.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 04, 2007, 02:15:38 PM
I'd buy from that 7-11 all the time. I'd have so many hot dogs and packs of gum and Slurpees, my brain would explode.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 04, 2007, 03:03:35 PM
Ok bare with me, I know Im hard to listen to/understand but please give this fruit a chance.

So this Miki didnt have that battle/arguement/showdown that took place in the origanal Lovex2
Therefore!
This Miki still has issues, am I right?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 05, 2007, 09:00:09 AM
No, Mikan, but good thinking anyway.  That particular set of issues was brought on by various things in the other reality.  In this story, she has had a very different post-17-year-old upbringing, so while she may have other issues (haha, "fear of Aya" (Ayaphobia?) being one of them), the same ones as in the other story don't apply.

Haha, imagine the cuteness if Aya went and visited Miki at 7-Eleven.

I admit that I'm having a fun time writing this one.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 05, 2007, 10:46:32 AM
Well, I dont know! there has be some sort of drama otherwise this isnt an OTN production...
*crosses fingers and hopes for more animalistic S&M Miki*
^Roll your eyes as much as you want. I know your wishing for it too...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 05, 2007, 11:55:11 AM
Animalistic S&... oh brother.  Haha!  I should never have written that scene.  I'll never live it down.  (Yes, I'm rolling my eyes very much right now.)

Drama?  Well, I do have a plan.  There's a point to this story.  I've been trying to distract myself from some things lately, so I've had time to sit and think about how I'll go about laying out the story.  This may or may not be a good thing. (This is where I snicker. Hahaha!)

Next chapter up in a few minutes.  Last minute editing.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 05, 2007, 12:30:07 PM
Chapter 10

It took me a little more time to fully let go of the things that prevented me from being entirely close with Aya.  Several days passed, and on Friday morning we woke up and went about what was becoming our usual routine of getting ready together.  Like most days, Aya had to leave first.

"See you tomorrow," I teased her, reminding her that whoever got home first would probably pass out before the other arrived.

"Be careful with your new drinking buddies," she shot back, reminding me that I didn't really know what my co-workers were into.

Soon after she left, I bought another paper, reading the classifieds as usual to see if anything better than 7-Eleven would rear its head.  As usual, nothing caught my eye.  As I browsed, I listened to Mika's new album, and I was quite impressed.  I wondered if Aya had ever met her.  They must have met several times at some of those TV shows they did.  Their new releases must have overlapped at some point in their long careers.  I daydreamed about what it would be like to meet all of my idols.

At ten, I headed to work.  I was teamed up with an older man named Hasegawa, who I'd worked with twice already.  He hardly spoke to anyone younger than him, he was rude, and he ignored me in an almost aggressive way right from the first day.  I wanted to pound his stupid, 50-year-old face into the ground.  I retained my cool composure, however, and ignored him back.  He may have been the more experienced one, but at least I was nice.  Waitressing had opened me up to a whole variety of types of people ranging from rude to overly friendly, shy and reserved to loud and obnoxious.  This 7-Eleven got an overload of weirdos, but I was more than capable of taking care of them.  An armed robber would have caused me less grief than Hasegawa did.

During my break, I sat back with a can of coffee and curry bread, and I e-mailed Aya.  I said nothing important.  "Hi.  How are you?"  That kind of thing.  She replied just as Hasegawa's voice interrupted my giddy excitement.

"Fujimoto!  At the till!"

I rolled my eyes, hastily (and stupidly) stuffed the remains of my bread into my mouth, and while chewing ferociously, cursed the rude man and hoped that he'd trip and fall into the oden stand.

I sauntered out of the back and opened up the other counter to help more customers, the first being a girl with bright (and tacky) purple and green hair.  I sighed, wondering why we didn't get more people like her in Takikawa.  Life was far more interesting in Tokyo.

I helped straight through my break and worked non-stop until my shift was over.  When I went into the back to collect my things, Hasegawa ignored me, so I made sure to leave the little stool in the back pulled out from the table in hopes that he'd trip over it.  So maybe I wasn't the nicest person.  But he deserved it!

I went back to Aya's, took a shower, changed, and called Kuniko.

"Seven o'clock sharp, Fujimoto.  Don't be late!" she warned me.

I regretted having told her that I had a habit of being late for social events.

"Yeah, yeah," I muttered, hanging up.

Of course, as tradition would have it, I was ten minutes late arriving at the restaurant.  From the look in Kuniko's eyes, I knew I'd get hell for it later.

The impudence of that girl to assume such familiarity! was what I thought on the outside, but on the inside I was grateful to have made a friend like her.  She'd taken on the role of "annoying little sister", which I secretly really liked.  I'd always wondered what it would have been like to have had a younger sister.  Aya was too mature to play that role.  Kuniko was childish like me (or even more so) and fit it much better.

Most of our co-workers and some of their friends were already at the long table, so we began our celebration.

"Here's to a convenience store career!" cried out Oshima, who took on our store's role of team spirit leader.

"Career?  This isn't a career.  We're all in it for the money," laughed twenty-year-old Momoko, the youngest of our group that night.

"Here here!" came cries of agreement.

"Except for Hasegawa," someone snickered.  "He's a lifer."

"I hate that guy," Kuniko groaned.

I agreed inside, chuckled outside, but didn't pipe up with my agreement.

They finally wrapped up the extended toast with a heartfelt "Welcome, Fujimoto!" and ordered food.  We had a merry time, the fifteen of us, all of us under the age of thirty. 

Throughout the night, I heard strange stories from those unlucky enough to be saddled with night shifts, and I shared some of my own convenience store stories from back home.  They seemed fairly plain to me, but the group had some terrific laughs at my former Takikawa customers' expenses.

At ten o'clock, we decided to move to another place.  Some sort of bar or club, but nobody was sober enough to give me any more details.  Apparently, it was a place that they liked to frequent.  We hopped on the train, and seven of us brave souls headed over to Shinjuku.

Kuniko had forgotten all about my previous tardiness, and she came by as we were walking through the crowded district, slinging her arm around my neck drunkenly and almost strangling me.  She wouldn't let go until I'd confided in her the number of people I'd slept with.  Talk about intrusive!  But I was feeling friendly with drink (that was always my term for "tipsy", which I don't consider even close to drunk), and so I whispered the answer in her ear.

"Six?!  You've slept with six people?!" she yelled out, and I put my hand over her mouth.

"The point of whispering it was for everyone else not to hear," I hissed with a murderous look.

"But... wow... six?  My answer's two.  Your town's really boring, then, huh?  You've got to find other ways to have fun."

I rolled my eyes.  Six didn't seem like that big of a number to me.  I wasn't running around rampant like some of my friends.  It just so happened that six people had sufficiently moved my heart.  Okay, five.  One had been a one-night thing with a friend, but the next morning we'd realised our big mistake and remained friends, nothing more.  Plus, we never drank together again.

But I supposed compared to Kuniko, six was a lot.

"Yup," I agreed exaggeratedly.  "Nothing much else to do around there."

"What about now?  Got a boyfriend?"

Oh, there it came.  Wonderful.

"Just recently broke up with him," I explained briefly.

"You need a rebound!" she practically screamed.

I wondered if she realised all of Shinjuku ward was staring at us and now knew that I'd slept with six people and needed a rebound.

"No, I'm all right," I said quietly.  "Right now I'm happy."

I didn't need a rebound because I had Aya, and she was not a rebound. 

"Come on Miki," she said, dragging out her vowels.  "You're so hot!"

Even better, now the friendly folk of Kabuki-cho could assume that drunken Kuniko had the hots for me.

"Yeah?  I didn't notice," I scoffed.

Kuniko stopped walking and yanked me back as our group continued.

"Ya kidding me?!" she yelled in my face.  "When I first saw you, I thought you were a celebrity, or something.  Jeez, girl.  Don't be so modest!"

She shook my hands to emphasise her words, and I blushed.

"Thanks, but, um..." I mumbled.

She took no notice of my discomfiture and pulled me after the group.  We dropped our conversation because we had arrived at our destination.

"This is the wickedest club in the city," Koda declared.

He was the one who had suggested we come here.  He was tall and quiet, but it looked like he was about to explode with excitement now that we were standing outside of his approved hangout.  It looked a bit flashy on the outside, and I groaned in my mind, hoping the place wasn't as tacky on the inside.

We bypassed the line that stretched around the corner and we went in.  It was surprisingly good.  Excellent music and fast service at the bar.  The crowd was also of a slightly higher calibre than the usual club.  I assumed Koda must have had some really close contacts to get us in, because we weren't exactly the richest bunch of youths.

We found a table and crowded around it, ordering drinks to continue our descent into madness.  Kuniko and Momoko grabbed each other and went to find strangers to dance with.  I watched them get started from the corner of my eye, envious of how talented they were, their bodies flowing naturally to the beat and attracting a circle of men in no time.

I focused on my companions and chatted with the ones I hadn't worked with yet and had only just met that night.  Maybe it was just the alcohol, but they all seemed like amiable people, and I must have been having an incredibly good personality day because they all liked me immediately.  I received lots of offers, from help to finding an apartment when the time came, to phone cards for calling my parents (one girl worked part time for a phone company and received lots of freebies from the office).

It was approaching midnight when I left the group to go to the washroom.  On my way back to the table, I decided to pick myself up a glass of water because my head felt hazy.  The bartender was on the other side of the bar taking care of a huge order, so I waited patiently, standing a bit back and letting my mind wander.  The music changed, and something at the back of mind tried to tell me something about the song.  That's when I accidentally eavesdropped on a conversation going on just behind me.

"Fake?  She's more than a fake.  She's a fucking retard."

The voice was a girl's, but it sounded vicious.  This was no regular gossipmonger. She sounded as friendly as a gang boss ordering her goons to rub someone out.  I felt sorry for whoever she was talking about.

"Too bad he sampled her for this track.  Stupidest thing Nakao ever did," another girl's voice said.

Nakao.  Nakao... That was it!  A small, unassuming man from Aomori known only by his last name - Nakao - had recently made a splash in the hip hop scene.  In the past year, he'd skyrocketed to popularity that must have made pop queen Ayu insane with jealousy.  The song playing at the club was the song that had made his popularity soar, and one of the reasons why it had been so popular was because of the singer he had sampled.  Matsuura Aya.  It was an older one of her songs whose name I couldn't remember, but it struck a chord within the population, this new man reviving this young girl's old image.  It was one of those things that just became popular for no one apparent reason.  Kind of like that annoying "Mai-a-hi, mai-a-hu" song from so long ago, but less annoying and more high quality.

But wait, backtrack.  These girls were talking about Aya.  They were insulting Aya.  I sighed angrily.  Everyone was entitled to their opinions, and I knew that celebrities were easy targets for jealous or disgruntled people, but I didn't like it.

"She never graduated from high school, you know?" a third girl piped up.

Everybody laughed.  There seemed to be a small group of them, but I didn't dare turn around to look.  I was starting to fume. 

What difference did it make if someone graduated from high school or not?  As long as he or she was a good person with a good heart, it didn't matter if he knew when the Battle of Sekigahara had been or how to conjugate the verb "to sleep" in English.

"Have you ever seen any of her interviews?" the first girl who had spoken asked.

She seemed to be the leader of the group.  Her voice was the cruellest and most authoritative.

"No, I wouldn't waste my time on that sort of shit," said the second girl.

She seemed to be the "second in command" of the group.  The leader's sidekick.  The one who was allowed to speak directly to the top girl.

"Same old rhetoric.  Flakey beyond belief," Leader confided in them.  "She makes my ten-year-old sister look brilliant."

I grew angrier and angrier.  It was one thing to call Aya a name or two, but it was another to go on and on about it.  How dare they?

"I've heard she has no friends because she's so prissy and demanding."

"Who'd want to be that bitch's friend anyway?  She has nothing to offer.  Hah, except for, you know, service."

I'm her friend, you horrible people!

"Hah, not even that.  She's a prude.  And fuck, look at her.  She dresses in drab clothes and goes on about being an adult.  It's like she has to convince herself she's grown up."

"Yeah.  She's trying way too hard."

Enough.  I'd heard enough.

I turned around and spotted the table that the four girls occupied.  They were dressed to the nines, obviously not lacking in money (or sugar daddies to buy them fancy schmancy stuff).  They were sipping martinis, and they looked like they thought they owned the club.  I could immediately pick out which one was Leader.  The others seemed a bit stupid, but she looked sharp.  Her eyes were bitter.

They noticed me studying them, and Sidekick called out to me in a threatening way.

"What?"

It didn't occur to me that I had a chance to walk away and avoid getting hurt.  Nothing but confronting them made sense to me.  It was my only option.

"Excuse me," I said, making my way over to stand by the table.  "Want to stop that?"

I looked directly at who I suspected was the leader.  The girl flashed me a disgusted look one might spare when encountering a slug in an expensive shoe.

"What?  Were we talking to you?" she asked.

I had been right.  Her voice confirmed that she was the girl who I thought was the leader.
 
I turned my body to address the whole table of girls.

"No, but I don't like what you're saying."

The girls exchanged looks and they simultaneously stood up, almost surrounding me.  I could see right away that these were the kind of girls who bullied the weaker students all throughout junior high and high school.  The ones who had money and flaunted it.  The ones who had messed up home lives.

The unfortunate thing was that while these girls looked like they would snap if I raised even just a baby finger against them, it was just an image.  Girls like this were deadly because they looked like they couldn't hurt a fly, but really could.  Because they had tempers shorter than a smoked cigarette.  Because the rage in them was such that it gave them the extra strength they needed to do damage at the most crucial of times.  If I wasn't careful, I might end up seriously hurt.

Surprisingly or not, the leader of the pack had a dirty mouth even when talking to strangers.

"To hell with what you think, you bitch.  Get the fuck out of our club."

At the back of my mind, I pondered what would happen if I left the club as recommended.  Leader was probably the manager's girlfriend.  Or well-paid sex slave.  Same thing in these parts.

My thought only lasted less than half a second.

"I don't want to start trouble with you.  I just don't like hearing you talk about her like that," I said in a reasonable but firm voice.

"You don't like the way we talk about that princess?" Leader asked with a laugh.  "What are you, her personal spokesperson?"

The girls burst out into high-pitched, annoying laughter that made me grit my teeth.  Why couldn't they laugh in tune with their hearts?  Nasty, dark, loveless.  It would be easier to tolerate.

"Just don't go assuming things about people.  You don't know her at all."

"Oh, and you do?" Sidekick snickered.  "Are you fucked in the head?"

I squeezed a fist, but kept my face expressionless.

"She's my friend."

"Oh no," groaned Sidekick Junior.  "Don't tell me you're one of those gross fans that think her idol actually gives a shit about her."

The other girls called out "amen" to her statement.  I could barely keep calm with all the rage that bubbling inside me.

"Believe what you want.  Just don't talk about my friend like that."

"Okay, first of all, I don't think she'd keep company like you," Sidekick snorted.

"What do you mean company like me?" I demanded in a low, dangerous tone.

"Some hick whose accent is so thick that what she's speaking is hardly Japanese?  Famous snobs don't go for that," she laughed.

For a second I forgot where I was and wondered if I really had that much of an accent.  I'd never really noticed before.  But Aya had a definite one, too, and I'd heard her slip in and out of it once in a while.  If these girls claimed to know so much about her, they surely must have noticed that.

"And second of all, obsession doesn't look good on anyone," Sidekick Junior grinned, jabbing at my arm with my hand.

I almost pounced on her for touching me.  If she did it again, a million policemen wouldn't be able to hold me back.  I remained calm on the outside, though, because my policy was one of indifference.  Show indifference, and things would eventually sort themselves out.  Lose your cool with people like this, and you either became a joke or got into serious trouble.

"I'm not obsessed.  I'm just asking you to-"

"Listen," Leader interrupted, grabbing the front of my shirt and forcing me look at her as I shut up and remained still.  "Last I checked, my man fucking owned this club, and as far as we're all concerned, you're nobody.  Whatever we think is how the rest of the club thinks.  You obviously don't fit in, so get the fuck out before I beat your stupid face into a pulp."

A girl in a very pretty dress and beautifully-done makeup speaking those words would have made me laugh in any other situation, but the look in her eyes convinced me that she wasn't bluffing.  I had to get out of there as quickly as possible.  I had to accept a defeat and come out of it with my life and my face intact.

But nobody talks about Aya like that in front of me, I thought angrily.

I opened my big mouth to protest.  Leader saw it, and she started to raise her other hand - perhaps to hit me - when things got even more interesting.

"What's going on?" a voice asked curiously.

Leader stopped and looked over her shoulder.  There was a handsome young man (he had to have been younger than me) standing there with a drink and a cigarette. 

Oh great.  Is this her man? I wondered dismally.

But Leader didn't react in a way that would indicate this young (was he even of legal age?) man - boy - was anyone she knew.  She ignored him.  He obviously didn't like being ignored, because he strode over and grabbed her hand in a move that surprised me.  She'd be screaming lines about sexual harassment in no time.  Sidekick and the Juniors started to crowd him, but he pushed them away.

What the hell is he doing?  You can't just rough girls up at a club like this! I thought.

On the surface I was criticising his crude methods, but deeper down, I was slapping myself for not taking the same initiative as he was.

"Why don't you girls quit messing around with people every night and try to fix your own screwed up lives?  I'm sick of seeing this kind of crap every week," he hissed.

So he did know them.  Maybe that's why they weren't screaming out for someone to call the police.

"And stop throwing out the manager's name as if he's your boyfriend.  His wife wouldn't be very happy to know that his personal prostitute is so vocal about her job."

Leader's eyes turned murderous, but she backed away.  Her group realised the situation had turned against them.  Leader's standing with the manager was obvious a sore point for her.  Without another word, the girls walked off, and I stood there wondering how I'd come to be involved in a nightclub power struggle.

"S-sorry," the boy stammered once the girls had left.

"Uh..."

I couldn't speak, not because of the shock of almost being beaten up by a gaggle of girls, but because this tough boy had reverted into a bumbling, soft mess.

"I've been wanting to say that to them for a long time," he said, this time sounding a bit more confident.

He gave a small, satisfied smile that warmed me up and gave me back my voice.

"Thanks for the help," I said with a slow nod of the head.

"I saw them getting in your face and I had to help you," he admitted.

He seemed to study me for the first time, and his face was overcome with a strange look that I couldn't identify.  It's not like he was instantly in love with me, but he seemed to want to be protective over me.

"I appreciate it," I repeated.

"Umm..." he started.

The boy needed to grow a spine.  He was turning into a fool and quickly losing cool points with me.

"I don't usually do that kind of thing, though.  I just saw you and felt really... like... like I owed you something big.  Like it was my duty to protect you."

Oh brother, I thought, suppressing a roll of the eyes.  I get to Tokyo, and some boy who barely needs to shave suddenly installs himself into my life as my personal saviour.

But when I looked at him closely, there seemed to be something in him that went past all the cheesiness.  He was sincere, no doubt, but also...

I couldn't quite place it.  But whatever it was, it was genuine and it felt nice coming from him.

"But I'm not trying to pick you up or anything!" he quickly exclaimed, waving his hands.

This time I rolled my eyes, unable to hold back.

"Oh, man.  Relax," I told him, and then not caring if he thought it was an abrupt question, I asked, "How old are you?"

"Twenty-two," he replied with a shrug.

Younger than me.  Just as I thought.

"And your name?"

"Sekiguchi," he said, fumbling for a business card and sketching a brief bow as he handed it to me.

I pretended to study it, but I actually didn't read a single word of it.

"Nice to meet you.  I'm Fujimoto," I said, holding my hands out to indicate that I had no business cards of my own, "and I'm practically jobless."

We stood there awkwardly, music playing in the background.

"Well, I'm with some friends, so I'd better go find them.  Thanks again for your help.  See you," I said quickly.

"Hey," he said quickly before I left.  "My company's looking for a secretary.  If you're jobless..."

He gave me a smile, gestured to the card to indicate that the company's contact information was written on it, and then said goodbye.  A sweet boy, but me working as a secretary?  Not my cup of tea.

I wandered off to find Kuniko and the group.  The girls had stopped dancing, exhausted and dehydrated.  They were re-energising themselves with mugs of beer, of all things.  It looked like they were going to be spending the whole night out. 

I told them I had gotten a call and that I had to go and meet my friend.  They offered to walk with me, but I insisted that I would be all right and that I didn't have to walk far.  Momoko told me in an airy voice to call her if my friend wanted to join the party, and I assured her that I'd call if we were in the area.  I chose not to tell them about my encounter with Leader and her girls.  That was best left a quiet interlude in my new life.

I got out into the crisp air, which had the effect of clearing my head and giving me back a bit of my sobriety.  I walked to the train station, messaging Aya along the way, asking her if she was home.

Five minutes later while I was just boarding the last train to her station, I got a response.

"almost hoam. s'good Niite" was what she wrote.

Oh great, I thought.  They got her plastered.

At first I felt annoyed because I barely felt tipsy anymore.  But then I remembered that this was Aya, and that I'd never really seen her get beyond a little giggly.  This could be interesting from a sober point of view.  I wrote back that I'd be at her place in less than twenty minutes.  A few minutes later, she sent me a one-word e-mail.

arrived.

As long as she wasn't falling all over her feet and throwing up all over the place, it would be a fun night.  Sour moments of the evening completely forgotten, I smiled to myself and willed the train to go a bit faster so that I could get to her place soon.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 05, 2007, 01:08:22 PM
puuh...just thought miki would fall in love with the man xDDD well too early for saying that...hmmm but anyway^^
great chap :inlove:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 05, 2007, 01:45:27 PM
Ahh, anything can happen in my world.  Hahaha!

The next chapter was originally part of chapter 10, but for some reason I thought it would fit as its own chapter.

Chapter 11

I slipped into the apartment quietly in case Aya had gone to sleep (which I hoped she hadn't).

"I'm back," I whispered carefully into the dark entrance that greeted me.

I slipped my shoes off silently and took a look beyond the entrance.  I could see that a light was on in the living room, so I headed to it.  There Aya sat on the floor, the TV on at an insanely low volume as she seemed to be watching it intently.

"Hi," I said to get her attention.

She rolled her head back slowly and saw me, a huge smile gracing her lips.  A huge, silly smile.

"Hiiii," she drawled.

I smiled and walked over, standing beside her and trying to tell just by looking how far gone she was.  She reached up and tugged my hand to pull me down beside her.  I made it easy for her and sat down.  She started to grope at my leg, trying to pull me closer (or on top of her.  I wasn't sure which).

"How much did you drink?" I laughed, pushing her hands away easily.

She let go of me and started counting on her fingers.  My eyes widened as she passed ten and then fifteen.  At seventeen, she stopped and looked up at me with watery eyes.

"I don't remember," she mumbled.

More than seventeen?  That was excessive and dangerous.  Anxiety gripped my heart.

"You had more than seventeen alcoholic drinks?" I asked gravely, trying to get across to her that she'd better answer seriously.

She shook her head.

"I counted backwards from twenty-five.  Or twenty-four...?" she trailed off happily.

I sighed in relief.  Aya with seventeen drinks in her, I couldn't handle.  I'd have to take her to the hospital.  Aya with eight drinks in her might be a challenge, but not impossible.  I put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed briefly.

"Good, good," I told her, and she smiled proudly.

"Where did you go tonight?" she slurred.

Now was definitely not the time to tell her about Leader and her insults.

"After dinner, some of us went out to a club in Shinjuku.  We just listened to music and talked," I said slowly.

"I wanna go!" she said.

Too late, you dummy.  Trains have stopped.

"What about you?" I asked.  "What did you do?"

She grabbed the front of my shirt as if threatening me, and I remembered Leader's earlier actions.

"They made me stand around and drink lots of stuff for hours!!  And then they did boring speeches, so Nemoto and I snuck off and drank together in the girls' washroom."

Oh dear.

"Who's Nemoto-san?" I asked, unsure where to start with my questions.

"You know!  He has his own TV show on Thursday nights that I watch all the time.  Duuuh, Miki!" she giggled.

Nemoto was a guy?  And they drank in the girls' washroom?

"Er... How drunk were you guys?  I mean, if he's a man, and you drank in the washroom together, that's a bit..." I trailed off, not really expecting Aya to listen to reason.

"Oh, he's totally gay!" she screeched with delight, clapping her hands.

That didn't really answer my question, but I saw how it might be more of a comfort to the women walking into the washroom and seeing a man.

"Good for him," I said with a wary smile, and then it hit me.

Nemoto.  Nemoto Ryu.  He had a television show on Thursday nights.  It was some sort of jazz music corner, but apparently he was a riot.  A very funny man.  I hadn't watched the show myself.  I only knew who he was because Aya was completely in love with him and wouldn't shut up about him around the time his show aired.  If we hung out on a Thursday, all she did was wonder what that evening's episode was going to be like.  If we hung out on a Friday, all she could do was recap everything that had happened in the previous night's episode.  Frankly, it didn't even sound that interesting, but Aya worshipped the ground that man walked on.

Wait... He was gay?!

Oh, man.  The things you never expected.

"So don't worry.  I wasn't flirting with him or anything," she babbled, pulling me closer to her by the shirt (which she hadn't let go of in all this time).

"I wasn't worried," I sniffed.

I had been too surprised that they'd been talking in the washroom to get worried.  But if I had clued in to who he was, I probably would've been a tiny bit jealous in a completely unreasonable, unjustifiable, and good-humoured way.

"No, I can tell when you get worried.  Your forehead gets extra furrow-y.  Hee hee hee," she said, poking the bridge of my nose annoyingly.

"It does?" I asked worriedly, brushing her hand away and feeling my forehead.

That kind of thing brought on permanent wrinkles quickly.

"Jooooke!" she giggled, and I growled.

"Don't do that!"

"Anyway, we drank there, and he got all silly, and we flushed my necklace down the toilet by accident."

I didn't ask for details.  All I knew was that if for some reason I ever got it in my head to buy Aya a necklace, I'd pass.  No point saving up to buy something that would get flushed down the drain in a foolish moment of inebriation.

"And then this woman came into the washroom, but she was happy, too, so we all laughed together."

Right now, happy equals drunk in Aya's mind, I thought amusedly.

I took a look at her grinning face and her sparkling eyes.  Not even news of her family pet's death could have brought her down from the high she was on.

It was adorable!!

I hugged her and felt something akin to what I felt when I looked at pictures of mind-meltingly cute cats and dogs and felt like and eating them up or squeezing them to death.

"You are so cute!" I exclaimed as she laughed and hugged me back, completely oblivious to the crazy effect she was having on me.  "Who would've thought?"

"I'm cuuuute, I'm cuuuuute," she sang, her voice going over my shoulder and probably right into her next door neighbour's ears.  "I'm so cuuuute, Miki thinks I'm cuuuute!"

I squeezed her and laughed.  The serious Aya that intimidated me, the mature Aya that made me feel like I was thirteen, the lascivious Aya that made me blush and move away shyly, the thoughtful Aya that made me feel like I was wild and unorganised when I really wasn't... All these images dissolved that night and let me see the true scope of the silly Aya.  I'd seen it before, but never to this extent.  It was what was missing from my view of her.  I hadn't seen her throw down her dignity like that and let loose completely.

It was a key piece to the jigsaw puzzle.

It was what finally made me relax around her.

I held her tightly, listening to her nonsensical ramblings, smiling, my heart soaring until she grew drowsy and started to fall over.  At that stage, I carefully helped her get to bed, not letting her hands distract me from my task, even when I had to help her undress and put on something more suitable for bed (oh, the way she giggled when I helped).  I took my job seriously, though.  I was responsible for her well-being.  I was the friend that had to take care of her in her weakness and hold her head up over the toilet bowl (although thankfully she wasn't in that kind of state).

Right before going to bed, I made her take some painkillers.  I always did that, and it helped me feel better the next morning.  She protested at first, but then she liked the fact that I was physically feeding her the pills and holding the glass of water up to her lips, so she grinned and drank the entire glass agonizingly slowly.  Then, it was time for bed.  I got in first and let her have the side closest to the door just in case her stomach rejected so much alcohol.  She hadn't shown any signs of feeling sick, but I didn't know her level of tolerance and didn't want to risk anything.

"Good night," I said in a singsong voice, turning the light off.

"Don't wanna sleep," she replied stubbornly, drowsily.

I allowed myself to snuggle up to her.

"But you have to," I said in a cute voice as though talking to a five year old.  "We have to go see Shiba-chan tomorrow and you won't feel well if you don't sleep."

"But I'm having fun," she whined.

"What?  Fun?" I asked in mock surprise.  "Me having to dress you, feed you, and drag you around like a baby is fun?  More like a pain in the neck."

"Rrrgmgmrrr," she muttered and I laughed silently.

"Go to sleep," I repeated.

"No," she insisted.

"Sleep."

She shook her head.

I raised my head so that it was in line with hers and I started to sing.  One of those old children's songs that everyone knew by the time they were four.  I sang quietly, just for her, until her eyes started to droop shut.

"I'm not going to sleep," she mumbled.  "No matter how hard Miki tries, I won't..."

Her protests grew weaker, and within a minute after her last words, she was off in dreamland.  I broke off my singing and closed my eyes, set on reviewing the entire evening.  However, I didn't get far.  When I closed my eyes, my own exhaustion took a hold of me, and all I could do was let myself fall into the inviting arms of sleep.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 05, 2007, 03:57:25 PM
awww what a funny and cute chapter  :D
The part where miki was singing was cute^^
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 05, 2007, 08:27:06 PM
Quote
And hey, I've already stolen Miki's career away from her and made her start working as- oops, I almost gave it away.  Hah, stay tuned soon...
:shocked:


Chapter 9
Quote
Aya was ordered to her boss' office.  She got a call early in the morning, and she'd reluctantly dragged herself out of bed and into suitable meeting clothes.  In the short time I'd spent with her, I'd grown attached and didn't want her to leave.
Awwwwww... :love:


Quote
I didn't want to work as an office lady at some second rate company office (which would probably be an easy job for me to get if I played nice in the interview).  I wanted something challenging.  Something that didn't have me doing the same thing over and over every minute of the day.
Indeed. Miki came to Toyko for some excitement, for something new. She didn't come to just do a 9-5 OL job.


Quote
Aya had sent me an e-mail back.

That fortune slip was right.  I get to keep my job!  More details when I see you.  Where are you?
Well, that's one less thing that Miki needs to worry about. :)  Now she just needs her own job.


Quote
Good.  At least one of us is having luck.  I'm job hunting nearby.  Nothing so far.  Know any places that want to hire a university dropout?

Her reply came quickly.

Have you tried offices?  I've found that a lot don't advertise that they need help.


I sighed.  Not the kind of job I wanted, but it was useful to know that there might be something out there that I just couldn't see.

I'll try that.  Thanks, I wrote.
Aya makes a good point. A lot of places intentionally do not advertise that they're hiring for a variety of reasons. For one thing, by not advertising it helps to ensure that only those people who are seriously looking for a job will come in and ask.  It also helps to somewhat increase the likelihood that these people who DO come to ask are actually skilled/qualified.


Quote
I spent the afternoon wandering around Shinagawa, but not just searching for work.  I did a bit of browsing around the shops and the department stores.  I found no job, but I did see a shop I wanted to inspect further once I was settled and had a source of income.  It looked like it had been constructed for me personally.  Anything I would ever want to wear was hanging on the hooks in the small establishment.
For a sec, I thought the shop might be a "toy" store.  :twisted:


Quote
We sat down, and she explained what had happened.  Her boss had fought hard for her and had had the rest of the top heads of her music label admit that they needed Aya no matter what.  They had said she could stay, but they slapped her with a heavy warning that if she ever pulled any silly stunt like that again, they'd have no second thoughts about dumping her from their label. 
So the boss went to bat for Aya? Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice. :thumbsup  Glad to see there are some stuffed shirts out there that aren't so "stuffed", so to speak.


Quote
She had received yet another stern lecture for an hour about the rules of the company, and she'd been made to promise to apologise to all the people involved in the Italy project that had not gone through.

"They were probably so lenient because the public didn't know about this project.  It was going to be one of those surprises that caught everyone off guard and then sucked them in.  If the country had known that Matsuura Aya was going to Italy to train, I would have been shot for deserting," she laughed.
The fact that it was a secret project was what probably saved her job. As she said so herself, if the public knew about this trip beforehand, the backlash would have been immense.


Quote
"I checked some offices, but it's a little hard to just walk in and say 'hey, need help?'"

She nodded sympathetically.

"Well, it was only your first day," she said a little unnecessarily.  "Maybe you'll have more luck tomorrow."
Aya's right, these things take time. Even though it would have been nice, it's not likely that Miki would find a job that she really liked on her first day on looking.


Quote
"Do people usually have to threaten you before you'll accept a gift?"

"No," I sighed, "but I just don't want you to feel like you're obligated to give me anything or help me out with money.  I don't want to be a burden or a moocher."

"You're not a burden," Aya said quickly.  "You're really not.  I'm always here to help you.  Don't let your pride get in the way of common sense.  If you need help, you can always ask me.  I'd much rather you do that then suffer and get into situations that are hard to solve."

Drop the pride.  Ask for help.  Trust her.  She was asking a lot, but I had to try.
With Miki's stubborness, as well as how her life has been up until now, it probably is asking for a lot. Miki still has trouble believing that she's "worth it" to Aya.  :'( But you ARE! YOU AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE!!!


Quote
I noticed her eyes open, so I looked towards her again.  She closed her eyes quickly before she could be caught staring, and I thought that she was either dying to tell me something important or having some sort of strange, prolonged seizure.
:lol: Seems like a fair enough exchange. Miki has weird dreams, and Aya fidgets when she's unable to sleep.


Quote
She pulled me back into the world literally by grabbing me and hefting me up awkwardly to stand in front of her, twisting me around and then hugging me.  It all happened in a blur, so I reacted instinctually and hugged back.  She pulled back and then leaned in to kiss me, at which point I deftly slipped out of her grasp, avoiding her and her poisonous lips, sitting back down on the floor and returning to scrutinising the map.  I hoped she hadn't noticed how shy and embarrassed I felt.  Of course she did.

"I estimate seven more days till you stop freaking out every time I get close to you," she announced.
Wait another week and Miki will be the one trying to get close.  8)


Quote
"Whatever's holding you back, though, cut it off.  It's not getting you anywhere."

She grinned, stuck her tongue out, and licked my nose.  I scrunched it up.

"You have a strange way of expressing your love," I stated with a glower.

"Oh, come on.  As if you wouldn't do that," she laughed.
Aya can tell that Miki's still holding back a bit. It's still probably that same idea of the need for a "safety net" that has been drilled into her mind all the time she's been home in Hokkaido.  Miki's been able to let go of most of that need, now she just needs to let go of that last bit.


Quote
Funny, she was right.  I would do the same kind of thing... if I'd known her longer than two months.  It was too early, though, to do that kind of thing and expect her to find it endearing.  But maybe I was wrong.  Maybe I could be my normal, weird self.  Maybe I should.
Damn right she should. Weird Miki is cute and wuvable!  :wub:


Quote

Wanted: Cheerful, enthusiastic youths for part time jobs.  Reasonable hours.  Great pay.  Start immediately.  Become part of the 7-Eleven team!.
Well...it's a start.


Quote
"It's just a temporary thing until I can find a real job," I explained quickly.

She studied me and then walked over slowly.

"It's cute," she said finally, and she moved off to the kitchen.

Cute?  The uniform was cute?  No it wasn't.  It was hideous.  And didn't she have anything else to add?  An opinion?  A question as to how I'd gotten the job?

"Hey," I said, following her to the refrigerator, where she paused in putting away her recent purchases.

"Mmhmm?"

"Don't you think it's dumb?  Like, me working at 7-Eleven?"

She shook her head.

"I know you'll keep looking for something else," she smiled.

"I will," I reinforced.  "It's just that I saw the help wanted sign, and I used to work at a convenience store..."

Aya stood up and traced the company's emblem on my shirt, making me blush.

"I know it's not your dream to work at 7-Eleven for the rest of your life.  I don't think you're any less cool because you've got a part time job there."
Aya has so much faith in Miki...and poor Miki might not feel like she's worthy of it.  Miki's still not sure if she'll be able to find a good job, but for Aya, knowing Miki as well as she does, it's never been a matter of "if" it happens, just "when" it happens.

Damn, didn't I say this already regarding another chapter here? I'm sounding so repetitive. :P


Quote
"Now go change!" she barked.  "You're going to cook for me!"

I laughed at her order, but I went to change into my pyjamas, folding my shirt carefully and putting it with my clean clothes.

Seeing that the bath was full, she decided to take a bath while I cooked.  We each took our sweet time.  By the time I finished preparing the nikujaga I claimed to be so good at making, Aya had gotten dressed in her pyjamas.
Dinner in pyjamas? That's just so... :mon cute:

And mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....nikujaga (aka. a beef stew type of dish)..... :drool:



Quote
My new part time job was easy.  My training lasted only three hours.  I was quick on the uptake and was ringing up customers' purchases by lunch time.  Fukuda was full of praise for me.
Miki's got skills!  :pimp: Can't help but wonder about this Fukuda guy though. He's not gonna turn out to be a lech/perv, is he?


Quote
"Have you got a decent place to stay?" she asked while we stood at the cash register, the manager in the back office and the store empty of customers.

"My friend's putting me up until I can find my own place," I explained.  "It's a nice place, but I feel bad because she's really busy.  There I am hanging around with all this free time."
Miki's got to be careful that she doesn't let it slip about who this friend is that she's staying with. It could cause a lot of unwanted ruckus if the public found out. After all, as nice as Kuniko seems to be, we still don't know if she's as trustworthy as Hiroshi nor if she's able to keep her mouth shut.


Quote
Kuniko nodded sympathetically and then clapped her hands.

"You need a welcome party!"

"I'm not really into..." I trailed off, but stopped.

If Kuniko could become my friend, that would be perfect.  And a party meant I could make more friends.  Then I'd be able to reassure Aya that I would stay here.

"Nothing big.  We can go out for dinner and a few drinks.  We've got an awesome team at this store.  We're lucky.  And we've got some other friends we can invite.  Kind of like a 'welcome to the neighbourhood' party!"

One thing led to another and suddenly I'd made plans with Kuniko to go out on Friday night.  We exchanged contact information, and before I knew it, I'd made my second friend from Tokyo.
Well that's nice to see. Let's just hope that Aya doesn't get all jealous/possessive when she finds out about it (after all, Aya probably wouldn't be able to go, not if she wanted to keep a low profile at least).


Quote
I told her all about my day and how Fukuda had praised me and how nothing had tripped me up, even the French couple that had come in trying to buy stamps without understanding a single word of Japanese.  When I told her about Kuniko, I became shy because I realised I sounded like an elementary school student gushing to her parents about her first day at school and her first friend.
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww... :shy1:


Quote
"You're right.  And they'll probably give me glass after glass of champagne just to knock me down and make me do silly things they can talk about for months to come."

Aya drunk?  I wondered what that was like.  I hadn't seen her get anything beyond a little tipsy, which just meant she was extra giggly and silly.

"That's okay.  They'll probably give me glass after glass of beer in order to see how long the tough Hokkaido girl can hold out."

Not as long as they might have expected.
So it's theoretically possible that both Aya and Miki could wind up, back at the apartment, totally smashed? Assuming that they don't both pass out, things could get interesting.  :twisted:


Quote
I closed my eyes and tried not to think about the cold, listening to her slow heartbeat and cursing why I felt perfectly at ease when she was asleep and couldn't witness my affectionate nature.  When she was awake, it was much more difficult.  She was almost intimidating.
Awwwwwwwwwwwww...she's still scared to let Aya see her wuvy-duvy side.   :shy2:


Quote
As I lay there holding this living, breathing human being, I had a revelation.  I had to get over this other complex of mine.  My fear of Aya.  She'd proven countless times that she wasn't being wishy-washy with her feelings.  It was time to start really trusting her.  I looked down at her peaceful face.  Starting at that exact moment, I'd let go of my fears and inhibitions.  When she woke up in the morning, she'd see a relaxed, natural me.
Part of what's been holding Miki back is her uncertainty about how serious Aya is about them.  I guess now she's finally starting to see and believe that she is dealing with the real thing, that Aya really is giving herself fully to her.


Quote
Haha, imagine the cuteness if Aya went and visited Miki at 7-Eleven.
OMGASS!!! Picturing that...it's SO CUTE!!!  :luvluv1:



Chapter 10
Quote
I listened to Mika's new album, and I was quite impressed.  I wondered if Aya had ever met her.  They must have met several times at some of those TV shows they did.  Their new releases must have overlapped at some point in their long careers.  I daydreamed about what it would be like to meet all of my idols.
Dream some more Miki, you can be amongst them yourself. :yep:


Quote
I was teamed up with an older man named Hasegawa, who I'd worked with twice already.  He hardly spoke to anyone younger than him, he was rude, and he ignored me in an almost aggressive way right from the first day.

...

I helped straight through my break and worked non-stop until my shift was over.  When I went into the back to collect my things, Hasegawa ignored me, so I made sure to leave the little stool in the back pulled out from the table in hopes that he'd trip over it.  So maybe I wasn't the nicest person.  But he deserved it!
Hasegawa might just be frustrated with how his life has been and is dealing with it badly. But whatever, for all we know he's just a jackass.


Quote
Most of our co-workers and some of their friends were already at the long table, so we began our celebration.

"Here's to a convenience store career!" cried out Oshima, who took on our store's role of team spirit leader.

"Career?  This isn't a career.  We're all in it for the money," laughed twenty-year-old Momoko, the youngest of our group that night.

"Here here!" came cries of agreement.
There are a lot of people who believe that working at a 7-11 is demeaning or otherwise undignified. Nice to know that Miki's co-workers know how to take it all in stride.  :)


Quote
"What about now?  Got a boyfriend?"

Oh, there it came.  Wonderful.

"Just recently broke up with him," I explained briefly.

"You need a rebound!" she practically screamed.
Uh-oh...:O

Kuniko probably means well, but she IS drunk, at the moment. Let's hope Miki can keep things together enough to avoid mucking things up.


Quote
"Ya kidding me?!" she yelled in my face.  "When I first saw you, I thought you were a celebrity, or something.  Jeez, girl.  Don't be so modest!"

She shook my hands to emphasise her words, and I blushed.

"Thanks, but, um..." I mumbled.
Ok, the saying she thought Miki looked like a celebrity is nice and all, but now it's just getting kind of awkward. Kuniko's not gonna do something stupid like try and find Miki a guy, is she?


Quote
I focused on my companions and chatted with the ones I hadn't worked with yet and had only just met that night.  Maybe it was just the alcohol, but they all seemed like amiable people, and I must have been having an incredibly good personality day because they all liked me immediately.
With any luck, they'll still be amiable when they're all sober.



Quote
I received lots of offers, from help to finding an apartment when the time came, to phone cards for calling my parents (one girl worked part time for a phone company and received lots of freebies from the office).
Free phone cards? SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!!! :rockon:


Quote
"Fake?  She's more than a fake.  She's a fucking retard."

The voice was a girl's, but it sounded vicious.  This was no regular gossipmonger. She sounded as friendly as a gang boss ordering her goons to rub someone out.  I felt sorry for whoever she was talking about.

"Too bad he sampled her for this track.  Stupidest thing Nakao ever did," another girl's voice said.

...

But wait, backtrack.  These girls were talking about Aya.  They were insulting Aya.  I sighed angrily.  Everyone was entitled to their opinions, and I knew that celebrities were easy targets for jealous or disgruntled people, but I didn't like it.
Oh boy...this is vicious (though not entirely surprising) stuff these girls were spouting off. It's something to be expected when you're that age.  Still, it's got to really be diggin' at Miki to hear them say that shit. If she was sober, she'd be smart enough to know that it's better off just ignoring them...but Miki's had a few. :O


Quote
I turned around and spotted the table that the four girls occupied.  They were dressed to the nines, obviously not lacking in money (or sugar daddies to buy them fancy schmancy stuff).  They were sipping martinis, and they looked like they thought they owned the club.  I could immediately pick out which one was Leader.  The others seemed a bit stupid, but she looked sharp.  Her eyes were bitter.
Ah, the spoiled little rich girls. Figures.


Quote
Leader was probably the manager's girlfriend.  Or well-paid sex slave.  Same thing in these parts.
Oh BURN!!!  :rofl:


Quote
I remained calm on the outside, though, because my policy was one of indifference.  Show indifference, and things would eventually sort themselves out.  Lose your cool with people like this, and you either became a joke or got into serious trouble.
Indeed. Quite often people like that provoke just to get a reaction. The bigger the reaction, the more they like it and the more they capitalize on it. Act like you don't care and you still have some control.


Quote
"What's going on?" a voice asked curiously.

Leader stopped and looked over her shoulder.  There was a handsome young man (he had to have been younger than me) standing there with a drink and a cigarette.

Oh great.  Is this her man? I wondered dismally.

But Leader didn't react in a way that would indicate this young (was he even of legal age?) man - boy - was anyone she knew.  She ignored him.  He obviously didn't like being ignored, because he strode over and grabbed her hand in a move that surprised me. 

...

"Why don't you girls quit messing around with people every night and try to fix your own screwed up lives?  I'm sick of seeing this kind of crap every week," he hissed.

So he did know them.  Maybe that's why they weren't screaming out for someone to call the police.
This guy might be club security. If not, he must know the manager somehow.

Quote
"And stop throwing out the manager's name as if he's your boyfriend.  His wife wouldn't be very happy to know that his personal prostitute is so vocal about her job."
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH BITCH GOT
(http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/J-F-C/OWNEDKick.gif)


Quote
"S-sorry," the boy stammered once the girls had left.

"Uh..."

I couldn't speak, not because of the shock of almost being beaten up by a gaggle of girls, but because this tough boy had reverted into a bumbling, soft mess.

"I've been wanting to say that to them for a long time," he said, this time sounding a bit more confident.
Wha? So he's just some random customer then? If he's a regular, seeing how these girls conducted themselves must have been really bothersome. I guess the way Miki stood up to them gave him the confidence to finally put them in their place. :thumbsup


Quote
"Thanks for the help," I said with a slow nod of the head.

"I saw them getting in your face and I had to help you," he admitted.
Ah, the old "damsel in distress" thing probably had something to do with it too. ;D I mean c'mon, someone as pretty as Miki about to get in trouble like that? No question about it, he had to help her out.


Quote
"I don't usually do that kind of thing, though.  I just saw you and felt really... like... like I owed you something big.  Like it was my duty to protect you."

...

"But I'm not trying to pick you up or anything!" he quickly exclaimed, waving his hands.
Way to be smooth dude.  :mon lmao:


Quote
"And your name?"

"Sekiguchi," he said, fumbling for a business card and sketching a brief bow as he handed it to me.

I pretended to study it, but I actually didn't read a single word of it.

"Nice to meet you.  I'm Fujimoto," I said, holding my hands out to indicate that I had no business cards of my own, "and I'm practically jobless."

...

"Hey," he said quickly before I left.  "My company's looking for a secretary.  If you're jobless..."
Hmmm...I wonder what his company does? Might it have something to do with, oh...I dunno...MUSIC???  :stunned:

Acutally, come to think of it, we've never known the name of Aya's company, have we? Any chance there's a 22-year-old up and comer named Sekiguchi that works there? (http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/J-F-C/eyebrow.gif)

DUN DUN DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!


Quote
I walked to the train station, messaging Aya along the way, asking her if she was home.

Five minutes later while I was just boarding the last train to her station, I got a response.

"almost hoam. s'good Niite"
was what she wrote.

Oh great, I thought.  They got her plastered.
Wow, maybe my prediction of both of them coming home drunk (and the subsequent stuff to follow) might happen after all.  :twisted:


Quote
As long as she wasn't falling all over her feet and throwing up all over the place, it would be a fun night.
"Stumbling Aya" can be hella cute, but I'm supposed to be grossed out at the thought of "puking Aya", right? That's a bad thing?
:dunno:



Chapter 11
Quote
"Hi," I said to get her attention.

She rolled her head back slowly and saw me, a huge smile gracing her lips.  A huge, silly smile.

"Hiiii," she drawled.

I smiled and walked over, standing beside her and trying to tell just by looking how far gone she was.  She reached up and tugged my hand to pull me down beside her.  I made it easy for her and sat down.  She started to grope at my leg, trying to pull me closer (or on top of her.  I wasn't sure which).

"How much did you drink?" I laughed, pushing her hands away easily.

She let go of me and started counting on her fingers.  My eyes widened as she passed ten and then fifteen.  At seventeen, she stopped and looked up at me with watery eyes.

"I don't remember," she mumbled.

More than seventeen?  That was excessive and dangerous.  Anxiety gripped my heart.

"You had more than seventeen alcoholic drinks?" I asked gravely, trying to get across to her that she'd better answer seriously.

She shook her head.

"I counted backwards from twenty-five.  Or twenty-four...?" she trailed off happily.
So funny, and cute, and wubable! :mon inluv: :kekeke: :nya: :k-inlove:


Quote
"They made me stand around and drink lots of stuff for hours!!  And then they did boring speeches, so Nemoto and I snuck off and drank together in the girls' washroom."
Nemeto? Who's that? :O


Quote
"Who's Nemoto-san?" I asked, unsure where to start with my questions.

"You know!  He has his own TV show on Thursday nights that I watch all the time.  Duuuh, Miki!" she giggled.

Nemoto was a guy?  And they drank in the girls' washroom?
EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH? :o Aya didn't...no...she couldn't...she wouldn't!  :mon cry:


Quote
"Er... How drunk were you guys?  I mean, if he's a man, and you drank in the washroom together, that's a bit..." I trailed off, not really expecting Aya to listen to reason.

"Oh, he's totally gay!" she screeched with delight, clapping her hands.
Ah, yokatta.  :sweat: If he's gay then the tabloids won't have anything to use for their next articles (assuming that they know that he's gay).  The tabloids DO know that he's gay, right? (http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/J-F-C/cry.gif)


Quote
"You are so cute!" I exclaimed as she laughed and hugged me back, completely oblivious to the crazy effect she was having on me.  "Who would've thought?"

"I'm cuuuute, I'm cuuuuute," she sang, her voice going over my shoulder and probably right into her next door neighbour's ears.  "I'm so cuuuute, Miki thinks I'm cuuuute!"
Sounds like Miki's finally starting to let go of those concerns she had and is able to really be herself around Aya.  The fact that Aya's being all drunk and silly-cute sure helps. :inlove:


Quote
"Good night," I said in a singsong voice, turning the light off.

"Don't wanna sleep," she replied stubbornly, drowsily.

I allowed myself to snuggle up to her.

"But you have to," I said in a cute voice as though talking to a five year old.  "We have to go see Shiba-chan tomorrow and you won't feel well if you don't sleep."

"But I'm having fun," she whined.
Awwwwwwwwwww she's like a little kid.   :luvluv2:


Quote
"Sleep."

She shook her head.

I raised my head so that it was in line with hers and I started to sing.  One of those old children's songs that everyone knew by the time they were four.  I sang quietly, just for her, until her eyes started to droop shut.

"I'm not going to sleep," she mumbled.  "No matter how hard Miki tries, I won't..."

Her protests grew weaker, and within a minute after her last words, she was off in dreamland.
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! 
:imdead:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: nkca_ on July 05, 2007, 10:56:03 PM
it seems like you're in a good mood huh? such happy chapters, <3. anyway i love happy, eh stuff so i'm looking forward to the next chapter and the huge hangover aya's going to have and of course when miki overcomes that thing she has when aya gets too closeXD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on July 05, 2007, 11:56:05 PM
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!
Aya drunk is sooooooooooo cute!!!!!!  :wub:

great chap!
u r the best!                       *but plz don;t kill them :roll:*
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on July 06, 2007, 02:24:49 AM
Haha, imagine the cuteness if Aya went and visited Miki at 7-Eleven.
FLUFF!FLUFF!FLUFF! :w00t:

Also, I couldn't help but notice, but it Mika Nakashima Miki's idol in this dimension? I mean, I think that she likes her in real life anyway, but I couldn't help but wonder about Namie.

Oh, and Miki getting all defensive when those girls were bad mouthing Aya. I was rooting for her, baby! It's kind of funny how those girls talked about Aya like that when they were no better than her. (And, some people probably see their position as being lower . . .) Also, drunk Aya was definitely cuuuuuute. :wub:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 07, 2007, 12:02:23 AM

Oh, so they guys on the train staring at Miki, the extra-kind convenience store cashier and all that stuff was because Miki really is that cute but she didn't realize because the people in Takikawa had seen her grow up and were used to her being so pretty? Still find it weird that the train guys were staring more at her than at Aya.

The guy that "saved" Miki reminds me of that goody-two-shoes secretary guy working at Miki's company in the other reality. It's not him, is it? And please, please, pleeeeeeeeeease tell me Miki won't fall for that guy(or any other, for that matter)  :prayers:

Anyways I also think that probably what Miki didn't read in his bussiness card is that he works for a record company or something like that, and hey, now that I think about it, a 22 year old who works in a company and isn't the secretary himself must be either another not-so-high rank(I don't know a better word to say it) employee OR the son/relative of a high rank employee... meh, don't pay muchattention to me, it's too late, my brain is too sleepy :dozing:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 09, 2007, 09:04:12 AM
Hasegawa might just be frustrated with how his life has been and is dealing with it badly. But whatever, for all we know he's just a jackass.
He's just a jackass.  No pity for him.  He's based on someone I know.  If anybody gets disposed of in this story, it'll be him (so rest assured, Kei-Br).

Black velvet, I chose Nakashima randomly out of a bunch of big names.  Apparently she and Miki e-mail each other (in real life), and I thought it would be nice to have some sort of reference to that connection.  I'm sure this other Miki likes to listen to Amuro, too.

ChiruChaCha, don't worry.  Your sleepy brain isn't too shabby.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 09, 2007, 10:08:56 AM
Chapter 12

The next morning, I woke up to Aya groaning.  I opened my eyes to see her lying there holding her head, a look of pure pain etched on her face.  I smirked knowingly, but didn't tease.  I rolled up, jumped over her, and went to fetch a glass of water and some more painkillers.  We'd slept a good eight hours, so the effects of the medicine from the previous night had worn off.  When I got back to her room, she was sitting up, nursing her head in her hands.  I tapped her on the shoulder and handed her the pills first, which she put in her mouth without a word, and then I handed her the glass of cold water.  She drank the whole thing down and handed me back the glass, which I dutifully returned to the kitchen.  We worked smoothly like a well-oiled machine.  When I got back to her room again, she'd laid back down, her hands massaging her temples gingerly.

I walked over her carefully and slipped in beside her, latching on gently and snuggling my face into her neck.  She groaned in protest.

"Kill me," she mumbled in a pathetic voice, and I snorted.

"No," I laughed out softly so that I wouldn't cause her head any more grief.

"Let go."

"No," I repeated, and without looking, I brought my hands up and took her hands away from her head, continuing her soothing massage myself.

"Thank you," she mumbled grudgingly, too lazy to bring her hands back down and leaving them up above her head.

I lifted my head to look at the situation and my heart quickened.  It almost looked like I'd tied her hands up that way and she was lying there submissively, eyes closed, waiting for me to do what I wanted.

Damnit, I thought, cursing my mind for turning dirty on its own when Aya was not in any condition to humour me.  Stop thinking like that, you pervert, I reprimanded myself.

I continued to massage her aching head for several minutes.

"It's ten o'clock," I told her gently after a while.  "Think you'll be okay in a few hours?"

She didn't answer, so I looked up at her face.  She hadn't replied because she had fallen right back asleep.  I smiled a self-satisfied smile.  I had some sort of magic touch.  But her hands were still above her head, wrists crossed over each other.  I carefully moved her arms to her sides so that she no longer looked like she was posing for a dirty magazine.  Then I held onto her and lay there not thinking about much, waiting for her to wake up again. 

She woke up in half and hour, this time without any exclamations of pain.

"How are you feeling?" I asked when she opened her eyes.

She looked groggy, but not like she was about to keel over.

"Eh..." she mumbled.  "Better."

She sounded a lot stronger.

"Can you get up?"

She nodded her head.

"Do you want to eat something?"

She looked positively green at the mention of food.

"Ug..."

"You should eat," I suggested.  "You need something in your stomach."

She looked at me with those sad, pathetic eyes that said "I'll leave it up to you" and shrugged.  I took this as a sign that I should make her something easy to stomach.

"Why don't you take a shower while I make breakfast?" I said.

She looked at me reluctantly.

"Or do you need help with that, too?" I added with an idiotic smile.

She cracked her own first smile of the day, and something told me to go with it and continue.

"You really want me to help you?  Because I don't mind, but that means you'll have to wait extra long for breakfast, and your stomach is going to start growling and-"

I continued to babble.  Frankly, I got a little nervous and excited, but she gripped my arm with a tight hold, making me squeak and cut off my words.

"Just get me to the bathroom in one piece and I'll think about it," she mumbled, looking both amused and in pain.

I helped her get up, and once sure that she was steady on her feet, followed her like a little puppy dog to the bathroom.

"I can stand, you know," she laughed at me, her strength returning to her gradually.

"I know, but..." I trailed off.  "Are you sure you're okay?  You can make it on your own?"

She rolled her eyes and then winced as that caused her a bit of pain.

"Go make me food.  You're right.  I am hungry."

I nodded.

"Well, okay..." I said hesitantly, sticking around and waiting...

"What?" she asked me.

"Huh?" I asked back, giving her a confused look.  "What?"

She looked at me slyly.

"Do you need something?"

I shook my head vigorously.

"No, not really.  Nothing at all!"

But I didn't move off.  She grabbed my hands.

"If you want to take a shower with me, just tell me.  I didn't think you were serious," she said in a quiet and smiling tone, her hangover seeming to no longer exist.

Hiroshi, I lied.  She totally did seduce me.  Completely.  I don't know how she managed to, but she did, and right now, I've just realised that I have to take advantage of every naughty bone in her body.

She was right.  It was true.  I wanted to.  What had filled me with fear before filled me with desire now.  In a show of bravery, I grabbed her wrists.

"I'm serious," I said, staring at her as if to bore holes through her skull.

She seemed to forget the pain she was in, and she shook my hand off one wrist, using it to open the door to the bathroom and then pulling me in.  She closed the door behind us.  We brushed our teeth and ran the water, getting undressed when the shower spray was sufficiently hot.  Then under the warmth of the water, we took a long, forty-five minute shower together in the small cubby-hole of a space, details of which we would commit to memory only and not write down or tell a soul about.

Once dried, dressed and ready to go, we ate a few bites of plain rice each just to tide us over until we had lunch with Shibata.  Aya seemed to feel even better after that.

My phone rang while we were walking to the door.  Impeccable timing.

"Fujimoto-sama!" Fukuda cried out as if the apocalypse was upon us and he was alerting the empress.

"What is it?!" I asked in alarm.

"Hasegawa broke his ankle on the way to work and we can't find a replacement.  Can you please come in?!"

He sounded like he was about to cry.  And me?  I was in an excellent mood.  Nothing could worry me or make me feel bad.

I shot Aya a look and then said to Fukuda, "Sure, I'll be there as soon as possible."

He thanked me a million times, and I hung up to face Aya again.

"That was my manager," I said slowly, playing with the zipper of my jacket.  "He needs me at the store 'cause Jerk got into some accident and unfortunately only broke his ankle."

Aya was also in such a good mood that she didn't mind.  She'd gotten her forty-five minutes of fun, and that seemed to have cured her of her hangover.  At least temporarily.

"You'll have to meet Shiba-chan some other time, then," she laughed.

"Yeah, she's becoming this mythical figure.  It's like everything in the world is trying to prevent our meeting," I laughed along.

I got changed again, this time wearing something appropriate for work, and we left together, splitting up on the sidewalk.

"I'll tell my mythical friend that you say hello."

"You do that!"

I skipped over to work, giddy as ever.  I had surprised Aya with my forthrightness.  Inviting myself to take a shower with her and then actually carrying through with it.  She'd liked it, and I could tell that things were only going to get more interesting between us.  We had something deeper than I had thought before.

I worked with someone I'd never worked with before - a man named Shiroshita who hadn't been at the welcome party.  He seemed nice.  A little on the quiet side, but he didn't ignore me.

While I was wiping up a mess from a spill on the counter (honestly, sometimes customers can be so messy!), a girl walking in slipped and did a faceplant on the floor.  I dropped my cloth and went to help her up.  She was embarrassed as she sat there trying to re-arrange her skirt so that her legs weren't completely exposed.  I looked up at the counter to see where Shiroshita was, and he was staring like a zombie at the girl's legs, the proverbial stream of drool coming from the corner of his mouth.

You perv, I thought, rolling my eyes and helping the girl get up.

She thanked me, bought a pack of gum quickly, and then left.  I'm sure she'd come in to buy more, but was too humiliated to browse around for longer.

My shift ended at five that evening.  Kuniko came to replace me, and we chatted for a few minutes, leaving the store to Shiroshita.

"There's a party going on next Wednesday at some other club that Koda-kun visits once in a while.  Are you in?"

I sighed.  Was Tokyo going to turn me into a party girl?  Maybe.  I didn't really want to go, but I liked Kuniko and Koda and their group of friends.  Aya was also going to be monstrously busy in the next week, so I may as well distract myself. 

"Yeah, give me the details and I'll be there," I said.

Kuniko cheered and started rambling on about the details, all of which I'd never remember if I didn't write down.

"Oh my god, stop," I cried out, waving my hands at her.  "Send me an e-mail with everything you just said.  You talk too fast."

"Don't worry.  We'll just come pick you up at your place."

And see that I live in a trillion-yen condo?  No way...

"It'd be better if you gave me the details," I said, thinking quickly.  "I'm not sure what I'll be doing before, and I might be a bit late."

Vague and not entirely a lie.

"Okay.  I'll e-mail you details during my break," she said, thinking nothing suspicious of my excuse, quickly adding, "since you're too dumb to keep up with my intelligent speech patterns."

I hit her hard on the arm.

"Shut up and get to work before I smack you even harder on the head."

She snorted at me, and I walked off laughing, leaving the store and going back home.

Aya was home when I walked in.  She was sitting in the living room and writing something.

"Hi!" I called out from the entrance.

"Hi," she mumbled back, not looking up from her work.

I snuck up behind her, knelt down, and tickled her.  She jerked up, brushed my hands away, and kept writing.

"Whatcha doing?" I asked, sitting beside her and sticking my head over her shoulder.

She pushed my head away and then slammed her book shut.

"I'm finished," she declared, finally looking at me.

"Yeah, but what is it?"

"It's my agenda book, you dummy," she said, turning the book over for me to see the word "SCHEDULE" written on it.

"Oh," I said uninterestedly.

I had thought she'd been writing in her diary or something private that I wasn't supposed to see.  To test it out, I took the book into my hands and flipped it open.  She didn't try to stop me as I turned to this coming week's page.  It was full of neat red and black scribbles indicating what time and where she had to be for various events.

"Holy crap," I muttered.  "Is this the amount of work they make you do?  No wonder they pay you so nicely."

She took the book out of my hands and hit me on the head with it before I grabbed it back.

"It looks like a lot on paper, but it's really an average week," she brushed it off.

I opened the book and again read through everything she had to do, wondering if I would ever be able to handle the amount of work she did.  Probably not.  I'd get sick of having to listen to people telling me where to go and what to do twenty-nine hours a day.  It was admirable of Aya to be able to do it all and not complain a single bit.

"Can't you take some time off?" I asked, closing the book.

"What do you think I was doing the past two months?"

Right.  I had already forgotten she hadn't been working that entire time.  I gave her a sheepish look and she raised a hand, making me wince in anticipation of sharp pain.  Instead of hitting me, though, she stroked my hair.

"Although it would be nice to take some time off and go somewhere exciting with you," she said wistfully.

"Once I get a real job and make some real money, you're on," I winked.

"Hmmm," she sighed.

As she daydreamed, I opened her agenda book and looked through it some more, assuming she'd stop me if she didn't want me to know what was on her schedule.  Next month was already filling up.  I checked and saw that my birthday written in hastily with pencil.  Under it, she had written in some sort of social event.

"What's this?" I asked, pointing to a name I wasn't sure how to pronounce.

"I have to go to another one of those dinners," she said, sticking her tongue out presumably at whoever had organised the event.

"Another one of those drunken washroom nights?" I teased.

"No," she sighed.  "This one's a little more serious, which means far more boring.  I'm going with some colleagues to represent our label.  We have to be on our best behaviour because some important guy is hosting it."

"But you're going to miss my birthday..." I whined.

"Oh, that's your birthday?  I didn't notice," she said breezily.

"Of course it is, you doofus.  You've got it written in right here!" I said angrily, pointing at her handwriting and shoving the page in front of her face.

"Oh, so I do," she said in surprise.

I realised she was just messing around with me, so I dropped the book back on the table.

"Why do I get the feeling that the longer I stick around, the meaner you'll get?"

She began to laugh so hard that I was afraid she might flatline from lack of oxygen.  I watched as she threw herself down onto the floor, clutching her stomach and letting out hoots that would have frightened ghosts.

She never answered my question, and she dragged me out for dinner after I insisted we could cook.  She said she didn't want to buy groceries, and heaven forbid I argue with the master of the house.

"So what did you and Shiba-chan get up to today?" I asked before a bite of okonomiyaki.

"We went out for lunch.  Just our usual thing," Aya replied after she took a sip of water.  "She says 'hi', by the way, and wonders if you exist, too."

"When is she free next?  I'm starting to become obsessed with the idea of meeting her."

"She'll call me and let me know.  Looks like things'll be busy for her, too, this week."

I made a mental note to ask Fukuda to give me some extra shifts.  I'd bore myself silly all alone. 

"What am I going to do without you around?" I asked in a sad voice.  "I may as well still live in Hokkaido for all I'll see you next week."

"Aren't you supposed to be looking for a real job?" Aya snickered, picking up a piece of cabbage with her chopsticks and sticking it in my mouth.

I obediently took the strip between my teeth and chewed.

"Oh yeah," I chuckled.  "I guess I could always go to that guy's company and be an office lady..."

"What guy's company?" Aya asked curiously.

"Huh?" I asked.

I thought I'd told her, but then I remembered that we hadn't seen much of each other today.  Shower time didn't count.

"Oh, last night I- well, it's a long story," I started, remembering Leader and her bunch, "but this boy gave me a card and told me they need a secretary at his office."

The card was still in my wallet, and I took it out to show Aya.  She read what was written, and for some reason, began to smile in awe.

"He said his company needs a secretary?" she asked for confirmation.

"Yup."

She handed me back the card.

"That's perfect.  You have to do it!"

"But Aya," I whined.  "Can you see me as a secretary?"

She took a full look at me, and somewhere during this examination, I suddenly felt very naked.  Her gaze seemed to strip me of not just my clothes but also that shield that most people put up to protect themselves when in public.

"Yes, I can," she said unfalteringly.

"But-"

"Do it.  Call him.  Or even better, just go to the company on Monday morning.  This is your chance to get a real job."

"But... Office lady?  I'm not that kind of girl."

Aya sighed.

"Do you realise what kind of company this is?" she asked.

I took the card out again and read it.

"No," I mumbled.  "Paid escort service?"

She scowled at my sarcastic joke.

"It's a record label, for crying out loud!" she exclaimed.  "So if you want to have any chance to break into the industry, I suggest you get your butt down to Ikebukuro bright and early on Monday morning and get yourself a job serving coffee to the people that can make your dreams come true."

A record label?

It was the first time since the previous night that I seriously considered taking Sekiguchi up on his offer.

We talked about it a bit more, Aya urging me on and on until I agreed to at least go and look at the office.  We finished our dinner and decided to walk home instead of taking the train.

As we strolled down the dark, cold streets, I kept thinking about the girls from the club, and all I wanted to do was tell Aya about them.  However, I didn't want to see her feelings get hurt.  I didn't want to be the bearer of bad news.  Finally, I took her arm and pressed my shoulder against hers.

"You know, last night I met this group of girls," I started tentatively.  "They were saying some pretty rude things about you."

She slowed down a bit and looked at me questioningly.

"Who were they?  And what kinds of things?" she asked.

I shrugged.

"Some rich, stuck up girls.  Nobodies, really.  And just... rude things that aren't true."

Her face showed no sign of emotional reaction, so I ploughed on.

"I kind of jumped in and tried to stop them, but they were tougher than they looked and were about to hurt me when Sekiguchi - the guy who gave me the card - jumped in and made them run.  So the only reason why I met him and got this chance at a job is because some girls thought it would be satisfying to make fun of you."

I felt a load taken off my shoulders.

"You defended me?" she asked.

I could practically hear the hearts in her voice!

"Yes," I mumbled shyly.  "And I lost miserably."

"No, you won.  My heart!"

I groaned and pushed her away from me, speeding up my walking pace.

"Don't say things like that.  That's unbearably cheesy and... just... ug!"

She quickened her own pace and was at my side in no time.

"Hey, what happened to the Miki I woke up with this morning?  What'd you do with her?" she teased me, her hand finding mine.

"She's on a seventy-year coffee break," I muttered.  "But seriously, I'm not into mushy crap like that.  I like things cool, not cheesy."

"Oh, you liar!" Aya almost shouted.  "You have a mushy streak longer than the Nile."

The rest of our walk home was full of her teasing me as I tried to defend myself.  No more was said about Leader and her gang.  Once we got to her apartment, she tried to prove to me that mushy was good, while I tried to prove to her that being grown up and cool was good, and while we were both obstinate and refused to see each other's points, it all ended in a good way.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on July 09, 2007, 01:54:05 PM
Quote
"No, you won.  My heart!"

when i read this i was like... " AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW    :wub: :wub: :wub:  "
And my mom was walking by and said  'what the hell is wrong with u?'   and i was like 'MOMMMM, THIS IS SO CUTEEE' ...then she tried to read...but she doesnt speak english...and i thank God for that...what would she feel if she realized her beloved daughter was all like that for reading about how cute Miki and Aya(which are 2 girls) are together?
mom is closed minded...  well...i´ll let her know someday xD


u r so brillant  :love:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 09, 2007, 08:20:58 PM
Quote
The next morning, I woke up to Aya groaning.  I opened my eyes to see her lying there holding her head, a look of pure pain etched on her face.
Awwwwwwww...Aya needs taking care of... :love:


Quote
"Kill me," she mumbled in a pathetic voice, and I snorted.

"No," I laughed out softly so that I wouldn't cause her head any more grief.

"Let go."

"No," I repeated, and without looking, I brought my hands up and took her hands away from her head, continuing her soothing massage myself.

"Thank you," she mumbled grudgingly, too lazy to bring her hands back down and leaving them up above her head.

I lifted my head to look at the situation and my heart quickened.  It almost looked like I'd tied her hands up that way and she was lying there submissively, eyes closed, waiting for me to do what I wanted.

...

But her hands were still above her head, wrists crossed over each other.  I carefully moved her arms to her sides so that she no longer looked like she was posing for a dirty magazine.
Miki's finally letting her ecchi-ness come out. It's about damn time, if you ask me.  :twisted:


Quote
"If you want to take a shower with me, just tell me.  I didn't think you were serious," she said in a quiet and smiling tone, her hangover seeming to no longer exist.

Hiroshi, I lied.  She totally did seduce me.  Completely.  I don't know how she managed to, but she did, and right now, I've just realised that I have to take advantage of every naughty bone in her body.

She was right.
It's funny how she's realized this after the fact. :lol:  Seduction isn't necessarily outwardly blatant/obvious. In Miki's case, Aya wasn't even really trying and she still managed to do it to her, just by being herself. :twisted:


Quote
My phone rang while we were walking to the door.  Impeccable timing.

"Fujimoto-sama!" Fukuda cried out as if the apocalypse was upon us and he was alerting the empress.

"What is it?!" I asked in alarm.

"Hasegawa broke his ankle on the way to work and we can't find a replacement.  Can you please come in?!"
He called her FUJIMOTO-SAMA!!! XD

Can't say I'm entirely displeased to see that Hasegawa injured himself, though it sucks that Miki's meeting Shiba-chan will have to wait (unless Aya brings her to the store :P).


Quote
I skipped over to work, giddy as ever.  I had surprised Aya with my forthrightness.  Inviting myself to take a shower with her and then actually carrying through with it.  She'd liked it, and I could tell that things were only going to get more interesting between us.  We had something deeper than I had thought before.
Say it with me people...it's RABU-RABU~!!!  :wub:


Quote
While I was wiping up a mess from a spill on the counter (honestly, sometimes customers can be so messy!), a girl walking in slipped and did a faceplant on the floor.  I dropped my cloth and went to help her up.  She was embarrassed as she sat there trying to re-arrange her skirt so that her legs weren't completely exposed.  I looked up at the counter to see where Shiroshita was, and he was staring like a zombie at the girl's legs, the proverbial stream of drool coming from the corner of his mouth.

You perv, I thought, rolling my eyes and helping the girl get up.
My thoughts exactly.  :roll:  Not much details on this Shiroshita guy. I wonder what Kuniko and the others think of him? Was he not invited to the "welcome Miki" party, or was he just unable to make it? If it was the former, the next question is...why?


Quote
"There's a party going on next Wednesday at some other club that Koda-kun visits once in a while.  Are you in?"

I sighed.  Was Tokyo going to turn me into a party girl?  Maybe.  I didn't really want to go, but I liked Kuniko and Koda and their group of friends.  Aya was also going to be monstrously busy in the next week, so I may as well distract myself.

"Yeah, give me the details and I'll be there," I said.
And to think, Miki and her family were worried that if she moved to the big city, that (aside from Aya) she'd be stuck all alone, not knowing anyone.  :)


Quote
"Don't worry.  We'll just come pick you up at your place."

And see that I live in a trillion-yen condo?  No way...

"It'd be better if you gave me the details," I said, thinking quickly.  "I'm not sure what I'll be doing before, and I might be a bit late."

Vague and not entirely a lie.
Whoa, that was close. Nice save by Miki. :thumbsup  While Kuniko and the others really do seem nice and all, there's no way of knowing how they'd react if they knew Miki was living with Aya. Anything could happen, from trying to meet Aya and her celebrity friends to the tabloids finding out about it. Miki knows to avoid the latter in particular. She knows that it's not her place, and that it would/could ruin what she and Aya have if their "situation" was made known to the public.


Quote
"Aren't you supposed to be looking for a real job?" Aya snickered, picking up a piece of cabbage with her chopsticks and sticking it in my mouth.

I obediently took the strip between my teeth and chewed.

"Oh yeah," I chuckled.  "I guess I could always go to that guy's company and be an office lady..."

"What guy's company?" Aya asked curiously.
Ah right, Aya was giggly-drunk when Miki got home, so she never had the chance to tell her about the dude with the card. Maybe Aya knows the company he works for.


Quote
The card was still in my wallet, and I took it out to show Aya.  She read what was written, and for some reason, began to smile in awe.

"He said his company needs a secretary?" she asked for confirmation.

...

"That's perfect.  You have to do it!"

"But Aya," I whined.  "Can you see me as a secretary?"

...

"Do you realise what kind of company this is?" she asked.

...

"It's a record label, for crying out loud!" she exclaimed.  "So if you want to have any chance to break into the industry, I suggest you get your butt down to Ikebukuro bright and early on Monday morning and get yourself a job serving coffee to the people that can make your dreams come true."
Nice! Miki definitely needs to try this out! After the disappointment of being sick and unable to complete those auditions when she was younger, this might prove to be that second-chance at becoming a singer that she had been dreaming about.
 :wriggly:


Quote
"You know, last night I met this group of girls," I started tentatively.  "They were saying some pretty rude things about you."

...

"You defended me?" she asked.

I could practically hear the hearts in her voice!

"Yes," I mumbled shyly.  "And I lost miserably."

"No, you won.  My heart!"
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!   :heart:  :heart:  :heart: :nya:  :heart:  :heart:  :heart:

You just know that there rabu-rabu when you defend someone like that.  :inlove:



Quote
I groaned and pushed her away from me, speeding up my walking pace.

"Don't say things like that.  That's unbearably cheesy and... just... ug!"

She quickened her own pace and was at my side in no time.

"Hey, what happened to the Miki I woke up with this morning?  What'd you do with her?" she teased me, her hand finding mine.

"She's on a seventy-year coffee break," I muttered.  "But seriously, I'm not into mushy crap like that.  I like things cool, not cheesy."

"Oh, you liar!" Aya almost shouted.  "You have a mushy streak longer than the Nile."
It's true. Aya knows it. Miki knows it. We all know it. While she might be cool and badass (which she is), she's also got that softie in her that makes us all fall head over heels for her like how Aya did.   :mon lovelaff:


Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 10, 2007, 06:00:19 AM
Go go Miki powaa!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 10, 2007, 01:05:14 PM
Kei-Br, that's sweet.  Thank you, and I hope I don't get you in trouble one day.  Hahaha!  Close-mindedness can be a pain in the buttocks.

Don't worry about Shiroshita.  Haha, he's just a filler character.

Quote
AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!   :heart:  :heart:  :heart: :nya:  :heart:  :heart:  :heart:
That's a nice reaction... but did anyone have this reaction:  :banghead: ?  Because I did.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 10, 2007, 01:20:00 PM
Chapter 13

We both had Sunday free, so we spent the entire morning in bed sleeping, and then the afternoon cleaning up the apartment and making some room for my things.  I'd be staying for at least a few more weeks, and it was becoming bothersome to live mainly out of a bag.  We ended up having an impromptu fashion show as we tried on all of Aya's clothes and tried to see what looked best on each other.

The next morning I woke up at the same time as Aya, and we set about our usual routine. I made sure to look extra good (although Aya assured me that I could have worn a potato sack and looked stunning (I didn't believe her for one second because nobody would look good in a potato sack)), and we caught the train together.

"Are you nervous?" she asked as I sat there falling asleep.

"Eh?" I asked, straightening up.  "No.  Why would I be?"

Getting nervous about a job interview that didn't even exist?  What a waste of energy that would be.  I returned to my snoozing, and received a ferocious jab in the ribs when Ikebukuro station was announced.  With a hasty "bye", I ran out the doors before they closed.

Following the map Aya had printed out from the internet for me that morning, I found the building easily.  I looked in a reflective window and did a brief hair and makeup check before riding the elevator up.

The doors opened and I walked into a moderately-sized reception room, a desk just a few steps away.  I walked to it and saw a head bent down over a book.  It was a boy, and I had no doubt in my mind which boy it was.

"So what were you trying to do?" I asked.  "Quit your job and give it to me?"

The head bounced up in surprise, and sure enough, it was Sekiguchi.

"Uhh..." he said stupidly, his eyes then lighting up in recognition.  "Fujimoto-san!  You actually came!"

"A friend convinced me to give this a go," I shrugged.  "So, am I right?  You're the company monkey boy and you want to pass the job on to me?"

He blushed and stood up so that we were on even ground.

"No.  It's just that I can't work all the time because I've started taking a course at a local college.  I need to find someone else to share the job with," he admitted.  "But yeah, I'm just a secretary here."

At the club he'd sounded like he was a regular employee of some company when he was really the guy who made tea?  Regardless, there was something nice about him that didn't seem stuck up.

"Hey you!" bellowed a voice.  "Stop flirting with your girlfriend and get back to work!"

"Yes, sir!" Sekiguchi cried out, sitting in his chair and starting to type furiously on a computer.

I wouldn't date this baby here in a million years, I thought sourly.  Maybe if he grew up a decade...

I turned around to see who had yelled at him, and I saw a huge man come striding towards the desk.  He was tall and built like a refrigerator.  Absolutely massive and muscular.  He could beat Arnold Schwarzenegger to the ground.  The man took one look at me and stopped dead in his tracks.

"Who are you?" he asked abruptly.

I was so surprised at this man's entrance that I'd lost my voice.  Sekiguchi answered for me by standing up.

"She's here about the secretary job, boss.  Stop scaring her."

"Scaring her?" the man repeated, and then addressing me, asked, "Am I scary?  Do you find me scary?  Am I a scary man?"

It was then that I realised this man wasn't angry and that Sekiguchi wasn't actually afraid of him.  This man was a joker.  Maybe a bit on the gruff side, but not an irate man by far.

"No, you're not scary," I said.

"I like her!" he cried out.  "My god, you simply must work for us."

"But you haven't even asked her for her name yet," Sekiguchi whined.

I wondered whether he really wanted me to get the job.  I supposed it was just part of the playfully argumentative relationship he had with his boss.  The boss pierced Sekiguchi with a glare.

"Would you act your nineteen years of age?  I didn't hire a fifth grade elementary school student."

Nineteen?!

"You're nineteen?!" I blurted out, glaring at Sekiguchi.

He grimaced, hanging his head down.

"Oh, did the boy play that old 'I'm twenty-eight' crap with you?  He likes to pretend he's so old.  It'll do him no good once he passes thirty.  Right, Tsuyoshi-kun?"

Sekiguchi's head remained bowed.  And as it should have been!  He'd lied to me.

"Anyway, when can you start?" the boss asked, turning serious.

"Uh... Isn't Sekiguchi-kun here right?  You don't even know my name..."

It was my turn to sabotage my own job opportunity.  There must've been something in the air that day.

"I have a good feeling about you, little lady.  I want to see you here smiling every day.  I think you can help a lot around our humble U-Con headquarters."

I was at a loss for words.

"I can start tomorrow," I said simply.

"Great.  Come by at the same time tomorrow.  Tsuyoshi-kun'll show you the ropes."

And with that, the boss turned on his heels to leave.

"Wait!" I called out, and he turned back around.  "My name is Fujimoto.  Can I ask for your name?"

"Just call me 'Boss', and I'm sure our work relationship will be a fruitful one."

He gave me the most enigmatic of looks and then walked off. 

Tokyo people... are so weird.

I turned to face Sekiguchi.

"You little runt.  You lied to me on Friday.  You're not twenty-two.  What's up with that?" I asked, glaring at him.

To his credit, he rose to the challenge.

"Hey, you'd lie to a stranger if you were drinking and smoking underage in an exclusive club like that," he defended himself.

He had an excellent point.

"Since you saved me from getting my eyes scratched out, I'll forgive you this once."

"I knew I could count on you to see the light side!" he cried out happily.

I rolled my eyes, but spared him an approving smile.

And so started a very interesting relationship.

I left soon after finding out the boss' real name from Sekiguchi (or Tsuyoshi, as he boyishly insisted on being called).  It was decided that for the next few weeks, we'd work together, Tsuyoshi passing on his wisdom to me while I got used to the routine.

In the afternoon, I had a shift at 7-Eleven, and I explained to Fukuda that I'd gotten a part-time secretary job, but that I still wanted to work for him.  Being so friendly and helpful, he told me that he'd make sure to arrange my schedule so that there were no conflicts.

That night, I told Aya about what had happened at U-Con, and she was tickled by my tale of the boss.  As we lay in bed later, she reassured me that this was the lucky break I needed.  She told me some things about the label, and I had to admit that it seemed like a nice organisation to work for.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early, a little sleepy because we'd stayed up too late talking, and we repeated the same routine as the previous day.  Aya jabbed me awake at my stop, and I ran out the closing doors of the train.

Tsuyoshi turned out to be a solid, bright fellow.  He was nineteen and yearning to be a music producer, which was why he'd taken up a job at a record label.  He had recently signed up for a course at college to study some sort of musical programming.  I didn't have a clue what he was talking about when he explained it, so I nodded and smiled politely.

By noon, it felt like we were old buddies.  We got along very well and could relax around each other.

During lunch break, we were sitting together at the front desk eating our respective lunches (his mother had gone all out and made him a proper boxed lunch, while I'd had to run out to the convenience store because I'd forgotten to bring my lunch) when I had my first taste of the people who worked at the label.

First to walk by was a woman coincidentally named Kuniko.  I learned her name from Tsuyoshi, not from her, because she took one look at me, sneered, and walked out of the office.

"What's her problem?" I asked Tsuyoshi.

"I don't know," he said with a frown.  "Her name's Kuniko and she's one of the performers on our label.  She's usually not that much of a bitch.  She gives most people at least one chance..."

From what it sounded like, Kuniko wasn't the nicest girl on the block, but she wasn't aggressively rude right off the bat.  Maybe she was having a bad day.

Next came a man name Ohashi, and as if Kuniko giving me a dirty look wasn't enough, Ohashi glared at me.

I put aside my urge to glare back and figured being nice first would make him realise how childish he was being.

"Hi, nice to meet you," I said, standing up and on the verge of telling him my name.

He stopped and faced Tsuyoshi.

"Who's the chick?"

Tsuyoshi stammered for a minute before letting out some noncommittal answer that I was new here, and without any further comment, Ohashi turned his back on us and left the office in the same manner Kuniko had.

"The hell?" I growled.  "Is everyone at this place like those two?  I quit."

I stood up and started packing up my half-eaten lunch when Tsuyoshi grabbed my arm.  I glared at him, and he let go with a thousand apologies about not meaning to touch me inappropriately.

"Really, I don't know what's up with those two, but not everyone's like that.  Please trust me!" he appealed to me desperately.

I sat back down, but I refused to continue eating.

Tsuyoshi was proven right when the next employee walked by.  I didn't notice her because I was studying an event schedule on the computer screen while muttering comments to Tsuyoshi, who was still working on his lunch.

"Oh, a new person," said a voice, and I looked up to see a beautiful foreigner with flawless ebony skin and hair tied neatly in a perfect bun standing there.

"Uh, can I help you with something?" I asked, wondering what this woman was doing here.

"No, not really," she laughed.  "I'm Katherine and I'm working here for the next few months.  I come from the United States."

Oh...

Well, her Japanese was perfect.  I wouldn't have guessed she wasn't one of us without looking at her.

"Katherine-san is our temporary dance genius.  Her company in Michigan-"

"Washington," she groaned, butting in.

"Washington," Tsuyoshi corrected with a pointed look that made me guess it was some geeky joke between the two, "sent her over to us because we were desperate for some good dance instructors."

Katherine nodded and looked at me.

"Except for the whole 'genius' thing, yeah, he's right.  But I'll be leaving in May, so don't get too attached!"

She winked and I couldn't help but laugh.

"It's nice to meet you," I said.  "I'm Fujimoto."

I stood up and bowed, and she bowed back.

"You're cute," she stated as if it was written on my forehead and she was reading it back to me.  "Are you one of the new ducklings?"

"Ducklings?" I asked, confused and embarrassed.

"Er, one of the new kids signed up on the label?"

I shook my head emphatically.

"No no no.  I'm just here to help this runt with his work.  I'm no singer."

She eyed me carefully, giving my body the whole up-and-down and making me feel a little nervous.

"A little on the lanky side, but you're short, so it looks okay..." she muttered under her breath as if evaluating a cow at the slaughterhouse.

Great.  Tokyo is just one big bucket of judgemental fun, I thought caustically.

"Come down to the training room sometime," she told me.  "I wouldn't be surprised if you could dance as nicely as you look."

What was this woman on?  She must have had too much coffee or chocolate because nobody before in my life had ever looked at me and said "hey, you look like you'd be an okay dancer!"

"Sure," I said casually.  "But you'll probably be disappointed."

She clucked her tongue.

"You've obviously never seen Tsuyoshi-kun trying to shake his stuff," she chuckled, going right through the boy's protests.  "He doesn't have any rhythm or sense of style.  If only he did, he'd have all us girls lined up to marry him."

She gave him a teasing look, and he sat there with a pout, making him look even younger than he already did.

A phone started to ring, saving Tsuyoshi from further humiliation.  Katherine reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone.

"Hello?" she asked,

A reply came, and she launched into a string of English words that was too fast and too colloquial for me to understand despite having taken several English courses in university.  Katherine gave a quick wave and walked out the office talking non-stop.

"Wow," I said to Tsuyoshi.

"That pretty much sums her up," he agreed with a smile.

Working at U-Con was going to fun.

=====

(ChiruChaCha is the new Coachie Jr.  Good call!)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 10, 2007, 01:57:18 PM
I'd completely forgotten about Tsuyoshi-kun! Awesome! :grin:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 10, 2007, 03:18:30 PM
Wow, for once I actually picked up something before it happened.

Ill admit everytime you write a new chapter I get a little nervous wondering if its going to be the beginning of the end. And if anything in this reply doesnt make sense im sorry, its late and Ive drank a lot of tea...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 10, 2007, 09:20:14 PM
but did anyone have this reaction:  :banghead: ?  Because I did.
Chances are Miki did...at first. :D



Quote
We ended up having an impromptu fashion show as we tried on all of Aya's clothes and tried to see what looked best on each other.
Did they change in front of each other? :twisted:

Did they model each other's "unmentionables"??? :pimp: :jerk:



Quote
The doors opened and I walked into a moderately-sized reception room, a desk just a few steps away.  I walked to it and saw a head bent down over a book.  It was a boy, and I had no doubt in my mind which boy it was.

"So what were you trying to do?" I asked.  "Quit your job and give it to me?"

The head bounced up in surprise, and sure enough, it was Sekiguchi.
EH? :O

Maybe he was bored and wanted someone pretty to talk to during his shift. :P


Quote
"Fujimoto-san!  You actually came!"

"A friend convinced me to give this a go," I shrugged.  "So, am I right?  You're the company monkey boy and you want to pass the job on to me?"

He blushed and stood up so that we were on even ground.

"No.  It's just that I can't work all the time because I've started taking a course at a local college.  I need to find someone else to share the job with," he admitted.  "But yeah, I'm just a secretary here."
Well, in his defence, back at the bar he never claimed to be an executive there or anything like that. Miki just assumed that he was since he had a business card. After all, it's not really that common to find secretaries/receptionists with business cards, is it?


Quote
"She's here about the secretary job, boss.  Stop scaring her."

"Scaring her?" the man repeated, and then addressing me, asked, "Am I scary?  Do you find me scary?  Am I a scary man?"

It was then that I realised this man wasn't angry and that Sekiguchi wasn't actually afraid of him.  This man was a joker.  Maybe a bit on the gruff side, but not an irate man by far.

"No, you're not scary," I said.

"I like her!" he cried out.  "My god, you simply must work for us."
Wow, that was easy. Hope this boss isn't some perv or something who's hiring Miki just to try and score.



Quote
"Would you act your nineteen years of age?  I didn't hire a fifth grade elementary school student."
OSNAP! Busted!!!  :rofl:


Quote
"Oh, did the boy play that old 'I'm twenty-eight' crap with you?  He likes to pretend he's so old.  It'll do him no good once he passes thirty.  Right, Tsuyoshi-kun?"

Sekiguchi's head remained bowed.  And as it should have been!  He'd lied to me.
Tsuyoshi-kun? As in the same Tsuyoshi-kun from WNTBD that "worshipped the ground Miki walked on" Tsuyoshi-kun?

Good job. :thumbsup


Quote
"Anyway, when can you start?" the boss asked, turning serious.

"Uh... Isn't Sekiguchi-kun here right?  You don't even know my name..."

It was my turn to sabotage my own job opportunity.  There must've been something in the air that day.

"I have a good feeling about you, little lady.  I want to see you here smiling every day.  I think you can help a lot around our humble U-Con headquarters."

I was at a loss for words.

"I can start tomorrow," I said simply.

"Great.  Come by at the same time tomorrow.  Tsuyoshi-kun'll show you the ropes."
Again, hope the boss isn't some perv or anything when he says that. But it's good ol' U-Con!  :rockon:



Quote
I turned to face Sekiguchi.

"You little runt.  You lied to me on Friday.  You're not twenty-two.  What's up with that?" I asked, glaring at him.

To his credit, he rose to the challenge.

"Hey, you'd lie to a stranger if you were drinking and smoking underage in an exclusive club like that," he defended himself.

He had an excellent point.
True dat, true dat. :yep:


Quote
In the afternoon, I had a shift at 7-Eleven, and I explained to Fukuda that I'd gotten a part-time secretary job, but that I still wanted to work for him.  Being so friendly and helpful, he told me that he'd make sure to arrange my schedule so that there were no conflicts.
Well that was awfully nice of him to do that. It would suck to lose such a good employee after all considering she'd just recently joined.


Quote
The next morning, we woke up bright and early, a little sleepy because we'd stayed up too late talking, and we repeated the same routine as the previous day.  Aya jabbed me awake at my stop, and I ran out the closing doors of the train.
Awwwwwwwwwww. :lol:


Quote
Tsuyoshi turned out to be a solid, bright fellow.  He was nineteen and yearning to be a music producer, which was why he'd taken up a job at a record label.  He had recently signed up for a course at college to study some sort of musical programming.
Ah, he's an ambitious one, isn't he? He probably dreams of one day owning and/or running a company like U-Con (with Miki as his main star, no doubt). ;D


Quote
During lunch break, we were sitting together at the front desk eating our respective lunches ... when I had my first taste of the people who worked at the label.

First to walk by was a woman coincidentally named Kuniko.  I learned her name from Tsuyoshi, not from her, because she took one look at me, sneered, and walked out of the office.

"What's her problem?" I asked Tsuyoshi.

"I don't know," he said with a frown.  "Her name's Kuniko and she's one of the performers on our label.  She's usually not that much of a bitch.  She gives most people at least one chance..."

From what it sounded like, Kuniko wasn't the nicest girl on the block, but she wasn't aggressively rude right off the bat.  Maybe she was having a bad day.

Next came a man name Ohashi, and as if Kuniko giving me a dirty look wasn't enough, Ohashi glared at me.

I put aside my urge to glare back and figured being nice first would make him realise how childish he was being.

"Hi, nice to meet you," I said, standing up and on the verge of telling him my name.

He stopped and faced Tsuyoshi.

"Who's the chick?"

Tsuyoshi stammered for a minute before letting out some noncommittal answer that I was new here, and without any further comment, Ohashi turned his back on us and left the office in the same manner Kuniko had.
Hmmm...Kuniko could just be thinking that the boss hired some new pretty face who didn't really have any real skill (even though we know that Miki does).  Osashi though...unless he's kind of pissed/jealous that someone as pretty as Miki was hanging with Tsuyoshi (instead of with him, naturally), there doesn't seem to be any reason why he'd be hostile like that towards her.


Quote
"The hell?" I growled.  "Is everyone at this place like those two?  I quit."

...

"Really, I don't know what's up with those two, but not everyone's like that.  Please trust me!" he appealed to me desperately.
As annoying as this must have been for her, Miki needs to stick with it. At most workplaces, there's bound to be a few people with whom you don't get along with (even if the reasons behind it are silly). But for every "bad egg" in the group, there's bound to be several "good eggs" to counter.


Quote
"Oh, a new person," said a voice, and I looked up to see a beautiful foreigner with flawless ebony skin and hair tied neatly in a perfect bun standing there.

...

 "I'm Katherine and I'm working here for the next few months.  I come from the United States."

Oh...

Well, her Japanese was perfect.  I wouldn't have guessed she wasn't one of us without looking at her.
...

 But I'll be leaving in May, so don't get too attached!"
That's cute.  :)


Quote
"It's nice to meet you," I said.  "I'm Fujimoto."

I stood up and bowed, and she bowed back.

"You're cute," she stated as if it was written on my forehead and she was reading it back to me.  "Are you one of the new ducklings?"

"Ducklings?" I asked, confused and embarrassed.

"Er, one of the new kids signed up on the label?"
U-Con Ducklings?  H!P Eggs? *groans* :wahaha:


Quote
"A little on the lanky side, but you're short, so it looks okay..." she muttered under her breath as if evaluating a cow at the slaughterhouse.

...

"Come down to the training room sometime," she told me.  "I wouldn't be surprised if you could dance as nicely as you look."

...

"Sure," I said casually.  "But you'll probably be disappointed."
Oh Miki, if only you knew. Well, I guess you will soon enough.  Katherine seems to have an eye for talent, makes you wonder if that might explain the reaction of the boss, Kuniko, and Osashi. The boss might have hired her because he saw potential in her, Kuniko and Oshashi in turn, could have reacted the way they did because they might have seen her as a potential rival if the boss ever decided to give her a shot.


Quote
"You've obviously never seen Tsuyoshi-kun trying to shake his stuff," she chuckled, going right through the boy's protests.  "He doesn't have any rhythm or sense of style.  If only he did, he'd have all us girls lined up to marry him."

She gave him a teasing look, and he sat there with a pout, making him look even younger than he already did.
Sounds like Katherine must have a blast teasing Tsuyoshi like that. :lol:


Quote
"Wow," I said to Tsuyoshi.

"That pretty much sums her up," he agreed with a smile.

Working at U-Con was going to fun.
When you end chapters like that, why do I feel a big "but" coming in the next one? :cry:


Quote
(ChiruChaCha is the new Coachie Jr.  Good call!)
Must be some inside-joke. :dunno:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on July 11, 2007, 05:39:28 AM
Thanks for clearing up the Nakashima thing. I was curious for some reason . . .

I'll laugh if Miki gets a singing career. :lol: I kind of expected it to come down to this, though.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 11, 2007, 02:15:10 PM
Hmmmmmmm, so it really was Tsuyoshi. Good, he's cute and seems like a good guy.

Chapter 13

First to walk by was a woman coincidentally named Kuniko.  I learned her name from Tsuyoshi, not from her, because she took one look at me, sneered, and walked out of the office.

"What's her problem?" I asked Tsuyoshi.

"I don't know," he said with a frown.  "Her name's Kuniko and she's one of the performers on our label.  She's usually not that much of a bitch.  She gives most people at least one chance..."

From what it sounded like, Kuniko wasn't the nicest girl on the block, but she wasn't aggressively rude right off the bat.  Maybe she was having a bad day.

Next came a man name Ohashi, and as if Kuniko giving me a dirty look wasn't enough, Ohashi glared at me.

I put aside my urge to glare back and figured being nice first would make him realise how childish he was being.

"Hi, nice to meet you," I said, standing up and on the verge of telling him my name.

He stopped and faced Tsuyoshi.

"Who's the chick?"

Tsuyoshi stammered for a minute before letting out some noncommittal answer that I was new here, and without any further comment, Ohashi turned his back on us and left the office in the same manner Kuniko had.


Expectable jelaousy induced bitchness that I guess won't stop when/if she reaches fame.  But she doesn't seem to have a clue about the effect she has on people, which makes her look even... innocent O.o

So, candidates for making Miki's life a living hell so far(because we all know someone has to do it in OTN's stories): Kuniko and Ohashi (Hasegawa seems to be out already)


Great.  Tokyo is just one big bucket of judgemental fun, I thought caustically.


Be thankful you're pretty and thin, dear, I wouldn't want to know what would they say if you were ugly and fat.
That just reminded me of Ugly Betty... Imagine Ugly Miki, with a record label instead of a model company xDD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 11, 2007, 07:05:59 PM
That just reminded me of Ugly Betty... Imagine Ugly Miki, with a record label instead of a model company xDD
Ugly Miki? Impossible.  :love:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 12, 2007, 10:52:22 AM
You're all just waiting for the nuclear bomb to detonate or for the world's oceans to rise and drown human civilisation in my story.  Hahaha!

JFC, early in Love x 2 - 1, Coachie guessed what state Aya was in [spoiler (dead) /spoiler], and so this time, ChiruChaCha pretty much predicted what was going to happen in the next few chapters.  Silly joke, yeah.

The next chapter was oodles of fun to write.  However, it's not quite finished yet.  Working hard!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Fenrir on July 12, 2007, 12:16:09 PM
You're all just waiting for the nuclear bomb to detonate or for the world's oceans to rise and drown human civilisation in my story.  Hahaha!

Well, you really haven't given us any other reason to believe that this story will be in a happy, go-lucky, sunny, bright setting based off all the previous stories you've written except for the 20* chapters of lovely, wonderful fluff you have written. :D :heart: :lol:

On a random note: It's raining waaaay too much here.. I need a lot of teru teru bozu dolls. In fact it's pouring at the moment... ugh.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 13, 2007, 03:51:58 AM
You're all just waiting for the nuclear bomb to detonate or for the world's oceans to rise and drown human civilisation in my story.  Hahaha!
Well, you really haven't given us any other reason to believe that this story will be in a happy, go-lucky, sunny, bright setting based off all the previous stories you've written except for the 20* chapters of lovely, wonderful fluff you have written. :D :heart: :lol:
It would be nice though! ;D


JFC, early in Love x 2 - 1, Coachie guessed what state Aya was in [spoiler (dead) /spoiler], and so this time, ChiruChaCha pretty much predicted what was going to happen in the next few chapters.  Silly joke, yeah.
Ah, I see. Forgot about that. :sweat:


The next chapter was oodles of fun to write.  However, it's not quite finished yet.  Working hard!
Ganbatte! :thumbsup We'll be ready with our praise for your genius :D


On a random note: It's raining waaaay too much here.. I need a lot of teru teru bozu dolls. In fact it's pouring at the moment... ugh.
Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww...poor Fen. :(  You know, there's a Miki-brand umbrella for sale in the H!P Joint. :P
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 13, 2007, 01:24:50 PM
Oh, ye of little faith.  If I recall correctly, the first story I ever posted here ended quite happily.  As did the second.  And the third.  And the fifth.  In fact, if you look at it, 6 out of 9 (excuse the numbers) have involved no death, and while angsty, have ended happily (or segued into other happy stories)!  Coupled with my 20+ chapters of fluff, I'd have to say I tend to write pretty mushy, happy junk.  Maybe one death is the emotional equivalent of 40 squeal-inducing moments, so it's hard to make readers forget.

That next chapter now just has to be edited.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 13, 2007, 06:41:48 PM
Quote
In fact, if you look at it, 6 out of 9 (excuse the numbers)
:rofl: THAT'S JUST AWESOME!!!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 13, 2007, 10:22:04 PM
Chapter 14

After my first day on the job, I went home and told Aya all about it.  I went on and on about Tsuyoshi and Katherine and their wonderfulness, and about Kuniko The Lesser and Ohashi the Ass and their horridness.  Aya told me several times to shut up (in those exact words), but I paid no heed to her and kept talking, resulting in her falling asleep and me getting angry and shaking her awake in a way that could not be described as gentle.

Two weeks passed.  I balanced my convenience store job and my secretary job skilfully.  After the first week and a half, Tsuyoshi cut his work hours in half so that our work times would coincide only three times a week.  On the other hand, Kuniko The Greater and I got to work together a lot, which was nice because she kept me sane.  Sort of.  She'd do and say childish things and I'd ignore her or badmouth her, and then we'd laugh.  If one didn't know, one would think we really were sisters.  She made working at a convenience store not as terrible as it could be.

Back at home, my parents complained about missing me.  They called me and told me the house was quiet without me, and that even Baachan had been around complaining that her new hired help wasn't half as good as I had been.  But they were happy to hear that I was finding my way, although I could hear the disappointment in my father's silence when I told him I was working as a secretary at a record label.  "My daughter can do better than that," he probably thought.

My mother gave me an update about everyone I knew, including Hiroshi, who I surprisingly hadn't thought of in weeks.  His birthday had passed, and I had, as he had requested, not phoned or e-mailed him.  My mom told me he had come by to the house twice just to chat with my parents, and my mother's evaluation was that he missed me like crazy and wanted me to come back.  I stood firmly on my decision, though, and told my mother that if he wanted to contact me, he could go ahead.  I'd be glad to talk to him.  But I wasn't going to go back to the way things had been before.

Several mornings after that phone conversation, I was called in on another emergency shift at the store.  Aya had the morning off and only a meeting to attend at lunch, so we'd slept in a bit and then stayed under the warm blankets, neither one of us daring to brave the cold that had enveloped the apartment overnight.  That was okay.  We kept occupied.  Until, of course, my phone rang.  I grumbled as I rolled over the side of the bed to grab the little machine.

"Don't answer it," Aya whined, trying to pull me back.

But we both knew it could be important.  Although how important it could get for a part-time secretary, part-time convenience store worker was a mystery to both of us.

I checked the display and there was Fukuda's name.

"Boss," I mumbled aloud, clearing my throat and answering.  "Hello!"

"Fujimoto-sama-sama!!" he cried as if the world was ending.

I wonder what part of the body Jerk broke this time, I thought with a laugh.

Hasegawa had returned to work several days after breaking his wrist, although his duties had been limited.  I wish he'd taken a longer break, but such was life.

"Yes, Fuku-chan?" I said cheekily.

I'd learned over the weeks that Fukuda didn't mind joking around, so when he praised him, we lowered his status.  I'd never heard of a boss as easygoing as him, but I thanked my lucky stars.  Fukuda was particularly fond of the double sama, especially when talking to me and Kuniko.  I was pretty sure we were his favourites.  We never made any mistakes.

"Hasegawa-san has caught Avian Influenza.  Can you please come and do his eleven-thirty shift?"

I almost burst out laughing.  Avian flu?!  Since when did Jerk hang around sick poultry?  How the hell had he managed to catch a chicken disease?  Despite the threat to Jerk's life, I couldn't help but be amused.

"Sure thing.  Let me get out of bed and I'll be right over," I said, stifling my laughter.

"Are you with your boyfriend?!" Fukuda demanded suddenly.

He was young, but he seemed more like my father than a jealous suitor.  He was married, after all, and he was extremely loyal to his wife and his one year old daughter.

"No, I am not with my boyfriend," I said loudly and clearly into the phone, looking at Aya pointedly.

She smirked back at me.

"Good.  You're too precious of a girl to go around getting knocked up by random strangers from this city," he huffed defensively.  "Tokyo men are all pigs.  You hear me?  All of them.  So be careful!"

"But aren't you from Tokyo?" I asked sweetly.

There was a stiff silence.

"With a few exceptions," he amended weakly.

I rolled my eyes and laughed.

"Whatever.  I'll be over in an hour.  Okay?"

"Much appreciated.  The shift is until five-thirty.  Thank you!"

We ended our conversation there, and I burst out laughing.

"Jerk got the bird flu and I have to go in to replace him!"

Aya stared at me.

"You're a horrible, horrible person to laugh at something like that," she stated.

"Oh, come on.  This means he'll be away for a while and that I won't have to put up with his rude behaviour.  It's great!  Besides, Hasegawa's a beast.  He'll threaten the virus to get out of him.  He'll live."

Aya decided to agree silently with me.  I could tell because she tugged me back under the covers.

"I have to be there in an hour," I reminded her.

"Come on.  The day I have the most free time, you get called away.  That's not fair."

"Sorry," I said in a cute voice, poking her nose.  "But duty calls."

I slipped out of her hold and out of bed, far too happy for my own good.  My relaxing morning with Aya may have been interrupted, but I'd gotten plenty of sleep and plenty of cuddling (which I still refused to admit that I liked) and was thus in an excellent mood.  As Aya lay in bed occasionally calling out to me, I took a shower and got ready.

Only when I was completely ready to walk out the door did I jump onto the bed to hug her.

"You should get ready, too.  Don't you have that meeting?" I reminded her as I squeezed her tightly.

"Blah," she replied.

"Don't be such a grump," I smiled.  "It's unbecoming."

I let go and left before she could latch on and not let go.

"My shift ends at five-thirty.  I'll be back soon after.  Bye bye!"

I ran out the door before she could entice me to be later than I'd promised Fukuda.

I got to 7-Eleven right at a busy moment at twenty-five past eleven, said hello to a grovelling Fukuda, and then went out to take care of customers.  Kuniko was also working that day, and she had given me a surprised look when I walked in.  When I joined her at the counter, she smiled a hello as she rang up a customer's purchase.

We didn't get a chance to talk for another hour.

"So Fukuda called you, huh?" she asked conversationally as two customers stood at the magazine stands reading.

"Mmhm," I replied.

"I hope Jerk stays in the hospital for twelve years.  I wouldn't mind never seeing him again."

"He's going to hate me even more when he finds out I'm the one covering for him again.  He's not the type to feel like he owes anybody anything, right?" I snickered.

Another hour passed during which we were busy as ever.  It was an unusually active day at our store.

Things quieted down for fifteen minutes, during which I took a quick break, and then everything was busy until three.  After that, the shop became a ghost shop.  No customers entered, and I wondered why they had to come in huge, unmanageable clumps.

Despite how busy we had been, I was perkier than usual.  I stood there stacking containers of salad up in the fridge and almost humming aloud.

"Someone's happy today," Kuniko called out from the counter.  "And I'm sure it has nothing to with lettuce."

I put the salad down and turned to face her.

"You know when you wake up in the morning and you're just in a good mood for no reason?  Like... when you feel like you're on top of the world?"

Kuniko nodded.

"That's how I felt this morning," I told her.

I went back to my job.

"Are you sure nothing else happened?  Like last night or anything?" she pressed on.

I shook my head.

"Life is generally good now.  I have a place to stay and Aya-chan's really easy-going.  She lets me do what I want.  And you guys are all fun to work with - minus Jerk.  And my other job is much better than expected."

"Hey, when am I going to meet this Aya-chan of yours?  You know we love to party.  There are lots of opportunities to bring her along."

I couldn't pretend not to have heard.  I had to answer.

I didn't think Aya would want to hang out with a bunch of part-time convenience store workers.  Her schedule was so full, and she had to think of so many more things.  Consequences.  Hanging out with a group of unknown people, taking pictures, talking openly... These things were all potential risks for her.  One dishonest person and her secrets might be spilled and spread around the city.  It was then when I wondered for the first time how many non entertainment industry friends Aya had made since moving to Tokyo.  How many besides me?

"Ah, maybe sometime.  She's really busy," I replied evasively.

"Okay.  Fine.  Where does she live?  I'll drop by one day," Kuniko insisted.

"Eh?" I asked, surprised, then quickly going into annoyed older sister mode.  "You can't do that without an invite, you rude girl."

"Fine," she said.  "Invite me."

"No!" I exclaimed.

"Why not?" she whined.

"Because," I said, my tone telling her to stop.

"Come on, Fujimocchan," she whimpered like a puppy.

"Welcome!" I called out desperately as a customer walked in.

Kuniko turned around, putting on her professional air and rushing to the counter.

I finished with the salad as Kuniko took care of the customer.  I moved to the back where the drinks were and did some pointless busywork there, arranging the bottles and cans neatly so that the labels all faced forward.

"So how about tomorrow?" Kuniko called out as she closed in on my position again, finished with the customer.

"No!" I barked.

She skipped up right behind me.

"Day after that?"

"No!"

"And after that?"

"For the last time: no!"

"Oh, come on.  You're being so difficult.  It's like this Aya-chan doesn't even exist."

"She exists!" I cried out defensively.

"Then why won't you let me meet her?"

"Because," I groaned.  "She's busy."

"She's a mirage!" Kuniko sang off-key.  "A mirage!  A hallucination.  An imaginary friend!"

"No she's not," I growled angrily.

"Then prove it.  Show me a picture of her."

"I don't have any," I sighed.

"Come on.  You guys live together and you haven't taken a picture together?  What kind of friends are you?  What's in your mobile?"

"No pictures of her!" I exploded.

"You're no fun," she deadpanned, walking back to the front.

I huffed out a sigh.  I didn't want her to become genuinely angry or anything.

"Maybe next week," I said because I could stop myself.

I was too nice.  Her face lit up brilliantly.

"Really?  You mean it?"

"Maybe," I repeated with a glower.  "She's busy."

"Ahhh, thank you!  Thank you, thank you!" she squealed, running up to me and tackling me with a hug.

"Why do you want to meet her so much anyway?" I grumbled as I tried to shake her off.

"Because she seems really nice, and you seem to get along with her very well.  I want to see what kind of person you look for in a best friend so that I have a shot," she giggled.

Of all the...

How could I be annoyed with her if she thought a sweet thing like that?  The way she worshipped me like her idol was not invisible to me or the people around us, but wanting to be my best friend was just too cute.  My exterior softened tenfold to this girl who I could honestly call my little sister.

"Okay, okay," I conceded.  "You can come over next week and hang out with us."

What am I doing? I thought.  I hope Aya's okay with that.

She probably would be.  Kuniko was a friend of mine, and if I could trust her, then Aya should be able to trust her, too.  Then again, I hadn't known Kuniko that long...

We heard the door open as a customer walked in, and Kuniko detached herself from me (she was still holding me in a very awkward bear hug that had seriously begun to annoy me), and I pushed her away towards the drinks as I made my way down the aisle to go and greet the customer and man the front.

"Welco-" I started and then pulled back in surprise, a huge smile gracing my lips.  "Aya-chan..."

Aya smiled and walked further into the store as I walked up to face her.

"I wanted to see you in action," she laughed.  "And I got hungry and needed a snack."

She began to walk to the display fridge where I'd recently been arranging salad, and I followed her, standing in front of the display area as she tried to look behind me.

"You're a liar.  You just wanted to laugh at me wearing this stupid uniform."

She looked at what I was wearing and raised an amused eyebrow.

"Okay, you got me," she said with an exaggerated defeated air.

"You shouldn't make fun, though.  I'm earning money here.  Money that'll get me out of your hair by next month."

"Aw, but I don't want you to move out.  I'm having too much fun with you around," she said cutely.

I hoped she was being serious because I didn't want to move out either.  Besides moving all my things being a pain in the neck and wanting to avoid that, I had grown enormously fond of living with her even though she was very busy and rarely at home.  I'd be lonely and depressed if I went to live in some shoebox apartment all by myself.

"Thanks," I grinned.  "How was your meeting?"

"I almost fell asleep," she groaned, and I giggled at the mental image of Aya nodding off into a bowl of salad.

"Fujimocchan, friend of yours?" Kuniko asked, suddenly walking up from behind Aya.

"Kuniko," I muttered under my breath.

She had noticed us chatting and had come along being her nosey self.  Aya smirked at the nickname and turned around, making Kuniko stop in her tracks.

"Er..."

She obviously recognised her.

"So you're this Kuniko I've been hearing about every day, non-stop through e-mails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations," Aya said, smiling pleasantly.

I winced in my head. 

Way to lay it on thick, Aya.

"You're Aya-chan?!" Kuniko blurted out in surprise.

Aya raised an eyebrow and looked at me.  I shrugged.

"On the outside she seems like a quiet, cool girl, but Miki-chan really likes to talk about her friends, doesn't she?" Aya said to Kuniko.

"Oh my god, she doesn't shut up about you!" Kuniko laughed, suddenly seeming to be completely at ease with the megastar.  "Aya-chan this, Aya-chan that."

"And about you, too!" Aya agreed, and they shared a laugh.

I was bewildered, angry, surprised, and delighted.  They got along instantly, but they had bonded over teasing me.  I groaned, hoping that they didn't exchange numbers or anything.

"I bet you have some great stories..." Kuniko hinted.

Oh, don't you dare, I thought, shooting daggers out of my eyes at Aya.

"Did you know Miki-chan simply adores sheep?"

I grabbed her wrist.

"Thanks.  She's heard enough," I interrupted forcefully.

Aya brought a hand up and squeezed my cheeks, making my mouth pucker up like a fish's.

"Look how she gets all shy.  Isn't she adorable?" she asked Kuniko.

I shook her hand off my face.

"Absolutely!  But she's also got a huge mean streak," Kuniko agreed.

"Watch your mouth!" I snapped at the youngest girl.

"Aw, she gets so grumpy when she doesn't get her way," Aya said, beaming at me.  "What a spoiled baby."

"You too.  Quit it," I glared at her sharply.

Her eyes sparkled.  She was enjoying this far too much.  Revenge would be had.

"I thought she just got angry at me, but now that I see the way she glares at you..." Kuniko snickered.

"Yeah, you have to be nice to her once in a while or else-"

"-she'll never smile!"

They burst out laughing as if it was the funniest thing either had ever heard.

"Girl, where have you been my entire life?" Aya asked dramatically.  "Your way of thinking is on par with mine."

"Hello!" I yelled at the two of them.  "I'm right here!"

But they continued to chatter on.  I walked off and they didn't notice.  What a couple of nimrods!!

I went to the back room, picked up my phone, and dialled Aya's number.  Three rings later (and I heard the music from her ringer coming from the store), she picked up.

"You are in so much trouble when we get home, Aya.  I'm going to tie you up and make you scream.  I'm going to drown you next time we take a bath together.  I'll never let you kiss me they way you like to again," I threatened, letting loose before she could say a word.

There was a deathly silence on the line, and I wondered if she'd taken me seriously.

"Um, let me hand you over to her," said Kuniko's quiet voice, all traces of joking gone from it.

Crap, I thought, gripping my phone tightly.

I'd completely blown it.  How come Kuniko had answered Aya's phone?  They must have been trying to annoy me even more.

I bit my lip.

"No, that's okay," I mumbled, ending the call, my finger lingering over the power button and turning the phone off.

I gripped the table hard.  Absolute silence.  The shock created a vacuum in my head.  A big, empty space that hurt my ears.

What in the world had just happened?

What was I going to say to Kuniko by way of explanation?

First I shocked her by living with a celebrity, and then I said things to that celebrity that one didn't say to regular friends.  Even if we were just friends, what I'd just said and the way I'd said it would have been crossing some sort of line.

I couldn't stay in the back.  I had to start some major damage control.  I had to get Aya out of the store and I had to talk to Kuniko.

I walked out of the back room.  Aya was putting away her phone and Kuniko was studying something on the shelf.  Aya saw me and called out.

"Hey, our hero's back.  You hung up on Kuni-chan here," she smirked.

Obviously, Kuniko hadn't told her what I'd said.  I nodded warily and almost kissed the customer that walked in.  Kuniko rushed off to help him as I took Aya aside.

"Listen, things are about to get really busy here.  Maybe we should continue this later," I told her in a serious tone.

She had no clue what had happened.  No clue that I'd essentially let Kuniko in on a lot more than she needed to know.  Aya was going to kill me later unless I found some excuse to make Kuniko believe my words had been a complete joke.

"Are you mad?" she asked in horror, and I shook my head vigorously.

"No!" I reassured her emphatically.  "But I want to talk to you later."

She looked worried, and I mentally slapped myself.  What a frightening thing to hear.

"But no, no, no, I don't hate you.  Love you, etcetera," I told her, and she smiled.  "I'm not moving back to Hokkaido, I'm not pregnant, I'm not sleeping with my bosses, and so on."

She frowned at my words, and I winced again because I wasn't doing such a great job comforting her.  I grabbed her hand.

"Just trust me.  Go home.  I'll catch up with you later."

She smiled in relief and I winked at her.

"You've gotten really weird the past little while.  I love it," she said quietly.

"Go," I ordered her, and I let go of her hand.

I looked back briefly at the counter to see Kuniko looking at us, but she quickly turned her head away when she saw I had noticed.

Aya left, followed by the customer, and then it was just me and Kuniko all alone.  I turned around to head over to her, but she dashed off to go and arrange bread.  I lost my nerve and went to the oden stand, fumbling around with the tongs and counting each piece of food.  Finally, after gathering my courage and with much hesitation, I approached her.

"Listen," I started awkwardly.  "That was-"

"None of my business," Kuniko said curtly, cutting me off and continuing with her task without a single glance at me.

"No.  I mean... it wasn't what it sounded like."

She stopped harassing the bread and looked over at me, slightly bewildered.

"It wasn't?" she asked in disbelief.

I shrugged weakly.

She returned her attention to the bread.

"I don't care what that was about.  I'm just going to forget about it because it was obviously not meant for me to hear."

I wanted to protest and tell her to hear me out, but the problem was I had nothing to say.  There was no point saying "Listen to this great argument!" and then staying silent.  I drew my head up and went back to my task of fixing drinks.  We barely spoke three words to each other over the next few hours.  Things became busy again, and all we did was apologise twice for bumping into each other while scurrying around behind the counter looking for stamps and so on.

My shift ended at five-thirty, and whether she planned it or not, Kuniko was in the back refilling drinks in the fridge, so I didn't see her on my way out.  My replacement had arrived and he had greeted me sleepily, probably having just woken up from a nap.  I said goodbye to him and went home feeling irked.

Why couldn't Kuniko just not freak out?  And why did Aya let her answer the phone?  The more I thought about it, the more the image of those two began to aggravate my mind.  They had gotten along so well by teasing me, and then before I knew it, everything had gone out of control and the entire world had swerved and hit a tree, leaving behind smouldering mess of misshapen metal and a driver in critical condition.

I dragged my feet all the way to Aya's, not wanting to have to face her and tell her about what had happened right in front of her without her knowledge.

Her place was dark when I walked in, and for a moment I feared that she was trying to surprise me somehow.  However, when I turned on the lights, nobody jumped out at me or slinked up behind me, no music started playing, no changes came to the atmosphere of the room.  I was alone.  I was relieved but also curious. 

It was after I put my things down and sat down on the couch with a huge sigh that I noticed a note on the table.

I've had to go to the studio because they messed up my recordings for tomorrow's release.  I'll probably be there until very late, so please don't wait for me.  I tried calling you on your phone, but you've been out of service all afternoon.  Bye bye!

I took my phone out and groaned.  I'd forgotten that I'd cut the power after that dreadful incident.  I turned it back on and read the note again.  It was a godsend because I didn't really want to talk about what had happened, but it was at the same time bad because I had to talk about it.

I fell into a morbid mood all evening, and I shuffled around morosely, fixing myself some dinner, taking a bath, and planting myself in front of the television to watch dramas.  All I could think about was the look on Kuniko's face.  I'd never seen her so serious in front of me.  She'd looked at me as though we'd just met and she was keeping her distance.  I'd managed to completely freak her out.  I guess nobody was as understanding as Nakanoko-chan, who I started to miss dearly.

I got it in my mind to call my friend of eight years, so I spontaneously dialled her up.  Her phone rang eight times until the voice mail picked up. 

"Just calling to say hi.  You don't have to call back or anything.  Just drop me a message some time and tell me how things are going.  See you."

I didn't want to worry her with my problems, although maybe by leaving that kind of message, she'd know something was wrong.  I didn't usually leave messages like that.

Before going to bed, I wrote Aya a little note saying good night and that we'd talk in the morning.  I placed it on the pillow beside me so that she'd see it.  Then by ten-thirty, I was in my pyjamas and trying to fall asleep.

But all I could still see was Kuniko's serious face in my mind.  I could imagine what she was whispering to her friends and our colleagues.  I felt terribly helpless.

An hour later I still hadn't fallen asleep, but I was saved from my mental torture by my phone.  It was ringing.  I shot up and grabbed it, checking the display before answering, hoping it was Aya or Nakanoko.  But it was neither.  It was Kuniko.  I answered it immediately.

"Hello?" I mumbled, my voice a bit foggy from not having been used for several hours.

"Hi, Fujimocchan," came the uncertain greeting from the other end.

"Hi."

I wondered what she was calling about.  Maybe to ask questions.  Maybe to tell me she didn't want to be my friend.

"I'm, uh, sorry for today," she said quietly.

She was sorry?  For teasing me?  For picking up Aya's phone?  Or treating me like she didn't know me afterwards?

"Don't worry about it," I replied automatically.

"No, I kind of, um, freaked out, but I shouldn't have.  You just... uh, you surprised me with what you said."

Well, that was nice.  It was nice of her to call and apologise for treating me like a nobody.  But where did we stand?

"I..." I trailed off, not sure what I was supposed to say.  "I shouldn't have been saying those things while at work."

The hell??  That has nothing to do with it.  But if it helps smooth things over...

"I just didn't think that, er, you were friends with a celebrity," she jumped in again strongly.  "And I didn't think that she and you, uh, would have, like, that kind of, er, association..."

She ended weakly.

"Uh, you know... Kuni-chan.  She and I are just, uh... we're really good friends.  And we kind of took it to another level.  Kind of by accident.  I never even considered it before.  Seriously.  It's this weird thing between us."

I tried to explain, but I couldn't.  It just didn't make any sense.

"No, that's okay.  I mean... yeah, you don't have to explain," she said nervously.

"But I do," I insisted, thinking that by explaining, she wouldn't be so weirded out.  "Like... Imagine your soulmate happens to be your best friend.  That's what it's like."

I couldn't believe I had said something like that.  It was so stupid.  So unbelievable.  Soulmates didn't even exist.

"Yeah, I get it," she said hastily.

I could tell she was uncomfortable talking about it.

"But really... Just think about it," I encouraged her.

"I will.  Um, anyway, that's all I wanted to say.  I'll let you get back to sleep, or, um, whatever," she finished hastily, and I almost felt like rolling my eyes at her.

"Don't worry.  I'm alone right now and I was sleeping," I reassured her unnecessarily.

"Oh..."

Awkward pause.  Awkward pause.  What to say...

"Oh, and, uh, you won't, um..." I trailed off.

"I won't go spouting off about the latest gossip, if that's what you're about to ask," she said firmly, reading my mind.

"Thanks, Kuni-chan," I said gratefully.

"It's pretty cool, though.  One of these days you'll have to tell me how you of all people met someone so famous.  I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years."

Things were starting to sound normal again between us, for which I let out a grateful mental sigh.

"A story that's not at all interesting," I confided in her.  "Not one bit."

"Well, one of these days.  Anyway, take care.  Good night."

"'Night.  See you later."

We ended the call.

Somehow, when things in my life started to look down, they'd perk right back up.  A few hours ago, I'd thought I'd lost a friend.  It turned out that it was not so.  Maybe there was something lucky about me deciding to come to Tokyo.  Maybe it was my lucky year.  Either way I looked at it, I was starting to believe more strongly in the power of New Year fortunes.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: shindoushiz on July 14, 2007, 01:08:26 AM
Meeting of Kuniko and Aya !! Of course they bond by embarrassing Miki. :lol:  I was a bit worried about Miki there, I really enjoyed her threat by the way (hehe), but Kuniko was a good person to talk things over and get the topic cleared between them.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 14, 2007, 07:31:40 AM
Quote
I went on and on about Tsuyoshi and Katherine and their wonderfulness, and about Kuniko The Lesser and Ohashi the Ass and their horridness.
I love the nicknames she gives the two jerks. :lol:

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Kuniko The Greater and I got to work together a lot, which was nice because she kept me sane.  Sort of.  She'd do and say childish things and I'd ignore her or badmouth her, and then we'd laugh.  If one didn't know, one would think we really were sisters.  She made working at a convenience store not as terrible as it could be.
Quite often, it's not just the work itself, but the people that you work with that will really determine whether or not you like your job and do it well. Nice to see that Miki and KunikoTG click well. :)


Quote
Back at home, my parents complained about missing me.  They called me and told me the house was quiet without me, and that even Baachan had been around complaining that her new hired help wasn't half as good as I had been.  But they were happy to hear that I was finding my way, although I could hear the disappointment in my father's silence when I told him I was working as a secretary at a record label.  "My daughter can do better than that," he probably thought.

My mother gave me an update about everyone I knew, including Hiroshi, who I surprisingly hadn't thought of in weeks.  His birthday had passed, and I had, as he had requested, not phoned or e-mailed him.  My mom told me he had come by to the house twice just to chat with my parents, and my mother's evaluation was that he missed me like crazy and wanted me to come back.
As is to be expected, everyone back home misses Miki.  Nice to see that Hiroshi still feels comfortable enough to visit Miki's folks, even if they parted badly.

It must be particularly hard for Baachan. She and Miki worked together for so long, they both knew how the other worked so well.  It's hard to no longer have that and to have to get used to a new rhythm with someone completely different (wonder who it was that she hired anyway?).

As for dad...of course she can...and she will, just you wait. :yep:


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I stood firmly on my decision, though, and told my mother that if he wanted to contact me, he could go ahead.  I'd be glad to talk to him.  But I wasn't going to go back to the way things had been before.
Miki's doing the right thing by leaving it up to Hiroshi as to whether or not they get in contact again.  Something big like this, no matter how much you may want it to happen, shouldn't be pushed considering how things were when they last spoke to each other. He still needs time to really believe that Miki's doing what she really wants, and that like she said, while she would really like to be friends, that they can never go beyond that.


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I checked the display and there was Fukuda's name.

"Boss," I mumbled aloud, clearing my throat and answering.  "Hello!"

"Fujimoto-sama-sama!!" he cried as if the world was ending.
He called her FUJIMOTO-SAMA-SAMA!!! :rofl:


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"Yes, Fuku-chan?" I said cheekily.

I'd learned over the weeks that Fukuda didn't mind joking around, so when he praised him, we lowered his status.  I'd never heard of a boss as easygoing as him, but I thanked my lucky stars.
Cool, sounds like Fukuda's not a creep after all. Nice to see that he's not that "stuck-up" type of boss that can make you hate coming in to work.


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"Hasegawa-san has caught Avian Influenza.  Can you please come and do his eleven-thirty shift?"

I almost burst out laughing.  Avian flu?! 
How the hell...:dunno: On second thought, nevermind. :lol:


Quote
"Sure thing.  Let me get out of bed and I'll be right over," I said, stifling my laughter.

"Are you with your boyfriend?!" Fukuda demanded suddenly.

He was young, but he seemed more like my father than a jealous suitor.  He was married, after all, and he was extremely loyal to his wife and his one year old daughter.

"No, I am not with my boyfriend," I said loudly and clearly into the phone, looking at Aya pointedly.

She smirked back at me.

"Good.  You're too precious of a girl to go around getting knocked up by random strangers from this city," he huffed defensively.  "Tokyo men are all pigs.  You hear me?  All of them.  So be careful!"
Awwww...he feels protective of her?   :oops:  Since Miki says he's a young-ish guy, he probably thinks of her more like she's a younger sister than a daughter.


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"But aren't you from Tokyo?" I asked sweetly.

There was a stiff silence.

"With a few exceptions," he amended weakly.
Oops. Point, Miki-sama-sama. XD


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My relaxing morning with Aya may have been interrupted, but I'd gotten plenty of sleep and plenty of cuddling (which I still refused to admit that I liked) and was thus in an excellent mood.
SHE LIKES IT! SHE LIKES CUDDLING WITH AYA!!!  :inlove:


Quote
"Someone's happy today," Kuniko called out from the counter.  "And I'm sure it has nothing to with lettuce."

I put the salad down and turned to face her.

"You know when you wake up in the morning and you're just in a good mood for no reason?  Like... when you feel like you're on top of the world?"

Kuniko nodded.

"That's how I felt this morning," I told her.

I went back to my job.

"Are you sure nothing else happened?  Like last night or anything?" she pressed on.
Uh-oh...KunikoTG can sense the "rabu-rabu" in the air from Miki.


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"Hey, when am I going to meet this Aya-chan of yours?  You know we love to party.  There are lots of opportunities to bring her along."

I couldn't pretend not to have heard.  I had to answer.
Damn, this is going to be tricky/complicated. KunikoTG is just being friendly and just wants to meet some more potential friends. After all, if Miki was friends with her, she can't be all bad, right? But it isn't like Miki can say "Aya-chan can't come because she's at some dinner function for her record-label."


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"You're no fun," she deadpanned, walking back to the front.

I huffed out a sigh.  I didn't want her to become genuinely angry or anything.

"Maybe next week," I said because I could stop myself.

I was too nice.  Her face lit up brilliantly.

"Really?  You mean it?"

"Maybe," I repeated with a glower.  "She's busy."
Oh crap, Miki just grabbed a shovel.


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"Why do you want to meet her so much anyway?" I grumbled as I tried to shake her off.

"Because she seems really nice, and you seem to get along with her very well.  I want to see what kind of person you look for in a best friend so that I have a shot," she giggled.

...

"Okay, okay," I conceded.  "You can come over next week and hang out with us."
Miki...put down the shovel. :O


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We heard the door open as a customer walked in, and Kuniko detached herself from me (she was still holding me in a very awkward bear hug that had seriously begun to annoy me), and I pushed her away towards the drinks as I made my way down the aisle to go and greet the customer and man the front.

"Welco-" I started and then pulled back in surprise, a huge smile gracing my lips.  "Aya-chan..."
Well, looks like Miki might not have to worry after all, as KunikoTG might just meet Aya right here and now.  Just wondering though, Aya's got her "public" stuff on right? You know, hat & sunglasses so that they don't get recognized? If they do meet right here and now, would KunikoTG realize who she's talking with? If they don't meet, will Miki tell Aya about how they're supposed to have visitors next week?

Oh, and incidentally...AYA CAME TO VISIT MIKI AT WORK!!! AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!  :wub:


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"Fujimocchan, friend of yours?" Kuniko asked, suddenly walking up from behind Aya.

"Kuniko," I muttered under my breath.

She had noticed us chatting and had come along being her nosey self.  Aya smirked at the nickname and turned around, making Kuniko stop in her tracks.

"Er..."

She obviously recognised her.
And here we go...moment of truth time.  :mon innocent:


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"So you're this Kuniko I've been hearing about every day, non-stop through e-mails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations," Aya said, smiling pleasantly.

I winced in my head.

Way to lay it on thick, Aya.

"You're Aya-chan?!" Kuniko blurted out in surprise.

Aya raised an eyebrow and looked at me.  I shrugged.

"On the outside she seems like a quiet, cool girl, but Miki-chan really likes to talk about her friends, doesn't she?" Aya said to Kuniko.

"Oh my god, she doesn't shut up about you!" Kuniko laughed, suddenly seeming to be completely at ease with the megastar.  "Aya-chan this, Aya-chan that."

"And about you, too!" Aya agreed, and they shared a laugh.

I was bewildered, angry, surprised, and delighted.  They got along instantly, but they had bonded over teasing me.
Wow, they get along. Kuniko's not all starstruck spazzy and Aya's not shying away either. That's a good thing, isn't it?

Well, considering that they're getting along because they're both teasing Miki probably isn't that great for Miki...but oh well, things could be worse. :bigdeal:


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I walked off and they didn't notice.  What a couple of nimrods!!

I went to the back room, picked up my phone, and dialled Aya's number.  Three rings later (and I heard the music from her ringer coming from the store), she picked up.

"You are in so much trouble when we get home, Aya.  I'm going to tie you up and make you scream.  I'm going to drown you next time we take a bath together.  I'll never let you kiss me they way you like to again," I threatened, letting loose before she could say a word.

There was a deathly silence on the line, and I wondered if she'd taken me seriously.

"Um, let me hand you over to her," said Kuniko's quiet voice, all traces of joking gone from it.
Remember how I just said things could be worse?  :banghead:


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I had to start some major damage control.  I had to get Aya out of the store and I had to talk to Kuniko.

I walked out of the back room.  Aya was putting away her phone and Kuniko was studying something on the shelf.  Aya saw me and called out.

"Hey, our hero's back.  You hung up on Kuni-chan here," she smirked.

Obviously, Kuniko hadn't told her what I'd said.
Kuniko's probably still in shock over what Miki (inadvertently) had told her. It's one thing to find out that one of your friends hangs out with a celebrity, but to find out that they're "more than friends"? That's one mighty big pill to swallow.


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Aya left, followed by the customer, and then it was just me and Kuniko all alone. 

...

"Listen," I started awkwardly.  "That was-"

"None of my business," Kuniko said curtly, cutting me off and continuing with her task without a single glance at me.

"No.  I mean... it wasn't what it sounded like."

...

"I don't care what that was about.  I'm just going to forget about it because it was obviously not meant for me to hear."
Well...she might not be freakING out, but Kuniko is definitely freaked out by what she just heard. The fact that she knows that she shouldn't have been hearing it in the first place just makes things even more awkward.  Kuniko's just stumbled upon potentially the BIGGEST gossip story of the year...and she actually knows the people involved in it.  What's she going to do?


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I've had to go to the studio because they messed up my recordings for tomorrow's release.  I'll probably be there until very late, so please don't wait for me.  I tried calling you on your phone, but you've been out of service all afternoon.  Bye bye!

I took my phone out and groaned.  I'd forgotten that I'd cut the power after that dreadful incident.  I turned it back on and read the note again.  It was a godsend because I didn't really want to talk about what had happened, but it was at the same time bad because I had to talk about it.
Indeed. Aya needs to know what happened, as she's directly involved in this. Hell, it was HER phone that Miki was calling.


Quote
Then by ten-thirty, I was in my pyjamas and trying to fall asleep.

But all I could still see was Kuniko's serious face in my mind.  I could imagine what she was whispering to her friends and our colleagues.  I felt terribly helpless.

An hour later I still hadn't fallen asleep, but I was saved from my mental torture by my phone. 

...

It was Kuniko.  I answered it immediately.

"Hello?" I mumbled, my voice a bit foggy from not having been used for several hours.

"Hi, Fujimocchan," came the uncertain greeting from the other end.

"Hi."

I wondered what she was calling about. 

...

I kind of, um, freaked out, but I shouldn't have.  You just... uh, you surprised me with what you said."

...

"I just didn't think that, er, you were friends with a celebrity," she jumped in again strongly.  "And I didn't think that she and you, uh, would have, like, that kind of, er, association..."

She ended weakly.
Strange, during that time they went partying at the clubs Kuniko didn't seem to have trouble with trying to find out details about Miki's personal (aka love) life. Now that she has, she's gotten more than she bargained for.  It's kind of sad, really, when you think about it. If she had met Miki's "boyfriend" she probably wouldn't have batted an eyelash at it. But because it's Miki's "girlfriend"...it's like she hit a mental brick wall or was involved in a car wreck or something.  While it's understandable that this is undoubtedly something that requires time for Kuniko to process, she could have tried harder to not treat Miki the way she did.  She pretty much ditched Miki for the remainder of their shift, making Miki feel that much worse/embarrassed and scared that she might have seriously messed up both her own life as well as Aya's life and career.


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"Uh, you know... Kuni-chan.  She and I are just, uh... we're really good friends.  And we kind of took it to another level.  Kind of by accident.  I never even considered it before.  Seriously.  It's this weird thing between us."

I tried to explain, but I couldn't.  It just didn't make any sense.

"No, that's okay.  I mean... yeah, you don't have to explain," she said nervously.

"But I do," I insisted, thinking that by explaining, she wouldn't be so weirded out.  "Like... Imagine your soulmate happens to be your best friend.  That's what it's like."
It's not like there's a prescribed response/explanation for a situation like this.  If there was, then love wouldn't have that magical spark that it does, it wouldn't have that power over us that it does.  I've said it before (most likely in response to another one of OTN1's stories), but love isn't always something that can be explained.  When you have it, you know it wholeheartedly. It's a feeling, a state of being, it's not something that can be itemized.  All Miki can do is try her best to convince Kuniko that what she and Aya have is real and hope that somehow, some way, Kuniko "gets it" and is willing to accept it.


Quote
"Oh, and, uh, you won't, um..." I trailed off.

"I won't go spouting off about the latest gossip, if that's what you're about to ask," she said firmly, reading my mind.

"Thanks, Kuni-chan," I said gratefully.

"It's pretty cool, though.  One of these days you'll have to tell me how you of all people met someone so famous.  I wouldn't have guessed it in a million years."
Well, this part of the conversation gives some hope.  Miki's asking her if she can trust her with a REALLY big secret. Kuniko must surely know what would happen to both Miki and Aya if this were to become the latest gossip news.  That last part shows Kuniko is at least trying to get past the "weirdness" of the situation and try to go back and continue the friendship that she and Miki share. She obviously considers Miki a pretty close friend and (otherwise she wouldn't have called her at all) and seems to get along splendidly with Aya. I personally really do want to trust and believe that Kuniko will keep her promise and keep this to herself. Regardless of what Miki and Aya do during their alone time together, Kuniko's right, it IS damn cool that Miki's friends with someone famous.


Now let's just hope that Aya doesn't freak out when Miki tells her what happened. :cry:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 14, 2007, 02:14:39 PM
I laughed during the Kuni Aya meeting and then smacked my forehead at the misunderstanding. I really love how it was (mostly) resolved by the end of the chapter. Nice not to have hair tearing cliffhangers.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 14, 2007, 02:33:03 PM
I had a good laugh at the Kuniko and Aya meeting. Especially at the phone answering bit. It was shizzam worthy  :lol:
I was kind of expecting some sort of wrong number thing and/or Kuniko misinterpretting it all as being for her...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 15, 2007, 07:38:24 AM
That mistake on the phone is one of those moments where you want to smack your forehead, as rndmnwierd mentioned, and cry out "why?!"  Hahaha, that's why I enjoyed writing this chapter.  Just to lead up to that moment and then have everything come crashing to a stop.  If I could change one thing in this chapter, though, it would be the dialogue in last phone call.  I didn't like the wording or the flow.

To Kuniko's credit, at least she had the sense to keep quiet and not say anything that she couldn't take back later (although that would probably be surprise rather than reason making her react with silence).  I like her too much to let her slip down a path Kuniko the Lesser would follow.  It's necessary for Miki to have friends.  Otherwise, it's creepy.  Hah.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 15, 2007, 12:20:23 PM
Now that you say it, I didn't like how Kuniko said she didn't know Miki had that kind of "association" with Aya. It sounds like she thinks gay couples can't have real relationships or something, but maybe she has her reasons for using that word... I still like her anyway.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 15, 2007, 01:02:09 PM
Hahaha, I think she used that word because I like writing that word.  Nothing to do with her opinion on whether a relationship is valid or not.  Just my preference. :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on July 15, 2007, 02:56:18 PM
i wanted to actually KILL Aya for letting Kuni-chan answer the phone... but then...that would end the fic in a way i don´t want it to end  :shakeit:
I don´t think Aya should get mad at Miki...it was her fault for letting another person aswer her phone when she probably knew that it was Miki calling...and that she was mad...and i should stop writing ^^
nice chap ^^
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on July 15, 2007, 06:06:03 PM
You should have dubbed that chapter an "Oh shit!" one. :banghead: Still, I got all giddy when Aya came in to visit Miki and then she and Kuniko started acting like identical twins. It was adorable, but Miki didn't like being their victim. If they hadn't been teasing her, I don't think she would have gone off like that, but we all know how much fun it is to tease your best friend.

And, although Kuniko was shocked about their true relationship, I think that she can easily string together why Miki had never told her. It's complicated to explain that kind of thing. Still, I think that Kuniko will grow more open-minded about it. I just see her becoming like Nakanoko or something.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 15, 2007, 08:41:58 PM
And, although Kuniko was shocked about their true relationship, I think that she can easily string together why Miki had never told her. It's complicated to explain that kind of thing.
I would say that probably played a big part in why Kuniko ended up calling Miki at the end, Kuniko doesn't want to lose Miki's friendship just as Miki didn't want to lose Kuniko's friendship. She's a smart girl, and she must realize just how hard it was for Miki to be so evasive when she was bugging her so much to let her visit/come over and stuff.  Miki probably would have told her eventually, and Kuniko probably realizes that. 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: nkca_ on July 15, 2007, 10:56:40 PM
That mistake on the phone is one of those moments where you want to smack your forehead, as rndmnwierd mentioned, and cry out "why?!"

I almost did scream why!!??!? when i read it, and it was not even happening to me¬¬....and then i felt kind of embarrased dunno why....anyway why would Aya let Kuniko answer the phone WHY?! is she insane? T_T yeah but i kind of like Kuniko and Miki was being extra stupid at the time i mean my friends use to hear everything i speak on the phone even when i don't let them answer it...yeah, i think kuniko will eventually be okay with it and feel more comfortable around Miki again so looking forward to your next chapter!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 16, 2007, 05:22:00 AM
For some reason, I couldn't worry about Kuniko. Miki saying those things on the phone was a such a faux pas, but I didn't think it'd come along with terrible consequences.  ;) But it's just a matter of time before things get ugly, right? And not just because OTN1's the writer.  :lol:

Hasegawa is the perfect candidate for trouble, I'd say. I have no solid proof, but I think it's him because he's a shady, peripheral character.  Broken limbs, Avian influenza? As if!  XD   But if they did take place, then he must have caused them to happen somehow... :roll: Hey, he might as well be a private investigator or a freelance journalist!

But I better stop giving you ideas, I might get conked by the other forumers.  :rofl:

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 16, 2007, 07:51:57 AM
I've answered my friends' phones for them before when they've asked me to because they're busy driving, etc., but nothing like this has ever happened.  I just gave my characters bad luck.  Hahaha!

Thanks for the idea, Amarghetta.  Maybe next chapter Hasegawa will fake his death and remain in hiding until chapter 28, when it's suddenly revealed that he works for Friday magazine and is preparing a special issue dedicated entirely to Miki and Aya. 

Hmm... actually, I'm starting to worry that what I have planned won't live up to anyone's expectations.  You're all expecting the Moon to explode and Earth to be colonised by Martians while Aya and Miki die leading the rebellion, but that's not quite what I have in mind for this one.

The next chapter is one of those boring transitional chapters.  I'm not finished writing it yet, but once it's done, I've got some things that I've been looking forward to writing for quite some time.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 16, 2007, 08:16:08 AM
Ah, well no I wasnt expecting that...Im all good with fate and destiny and it being some greater force's will to have this miserable in all their realities but if aliens and stuff like that are involved...then Im drawing the line.

Every time you mention the end and stuff I get all nervous and my palms go all clamy. Just..Just how bad is it? Gimme a hint. On a scale 1 - 10.
1 being the origanal series were they end all happy and 10 being Lovex2-1 where we discover that Aya died in a firey death and I ended up crying my eyes out for over an hour because it was so emotional...How bad is it gonna be?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 16, 2007, 11:30:02 AM
Sorry, but no hints.  Just don't get nervous and have no expectations!

I finished writing the "boring transitional chapter", but I had to split it into 2 uneven parts.  It was more fun to write than I expected.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 16, 2007, 11:34:47 AM
Chapter 15

I woke up because someone was entering the apartment.  I rolled over and looked at the alarm clock.  It was almost five in the morning.  I rubbed my eyes sleepily and sat up, listening carefully.  I heard light footsteps going about the living room, a person putting things down quietly on the table.  The footsteps then headed towards the bedroom, and the door slid open to reveal a shadowy figure that could only be Aya.  She paused when she saw me sitting up.

"Hi.  Are you asleep?" she whispered.

"No," I croaked, clearing my throat afterwards.  "I'm awake."

She walked in closer to look at my face.

"Are you sure?"

I smirked and hit her head gently.

"I'm sure."

She had thought I was sleep-talking.

"Sorry for waking you up," she apologised as she moved off to the chest of drawers to get herself some pyjamas.

She started to change and I lay back down.

"It's okay.  Did you just finish recording?"

"Mmhmm," Aya said, pulling on an oversized pair of fluffy pink pyjama bottoms that made me laugh whenever I saw them.  "I got a drive home from one of the sound engineers.  He lives nearby."

I rolled over to face her.

"My Aya-chan in a car with an undoubtedly handsome and dashing sound engineer at such an hour," I grumbled.  "Is it wrong to feel a little jealous?"

She stopped, giving me a cool look.

"Yes," she sniffed, and then continued what she was doing.

I rolled onto my back and laughed sleepily.

"Joking, joking."

She finished putting on her pyjamas, leaving her clothes scattered on the floor (I made a mental note to tease her about that later), and then slipped under the covers, sitting and looking down at me.

"Besides, he wasn't handsome or dashing.  Kind of geeky."

I smirked and sat up again.

"I know it's not the best time of day to bring it up, and if you want to wait till later, that's fine, but you said you had to talk to me about something..." Aya said abruptly, trailing off, reminding me that I still had to tell her about what happened with Kuniko.

The curiosity must have been eating her alive all evening, I realised.  I took a few deep breaths, returning her look, and then without any melodramatic airs, I told her the simple story of what had happened right under her nose at the convenience store.

"... and so after she apologised, she said she wouldn't say anything to anyone."

"That's why you asked me to leave..." Aya mumbled, still stuck on the first half of the story.

She sounded like she could be angry.  I nodded carefully and watched her intently, wondering what her final verdict would be.

"Why didn't you tell me any of this before?"

So she had decided to be angry at me.

"I'm really sorry," I said calmly.  "I was a bit surprised, too, and I thought it was better if you left and I tried to talk to Kuniko by myself..."

I looked down at my hands and wished that time would speed up so we could whip through this talk.  I felt as bad as I had when I'd first arrived and had to tell Aya about what had happened with Hiroshi.  Everything was my fault again.

"I'm not mad at you," she said matter of factly.

I looked back up at her, and she smiled briefly.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah.  I was just wondering why, but it seems like a good enough reason."

She patted my hand.

"I'll give Kuniko the benefit of the doubt.  If you trust her, then I'll trust her.  Besides, I like her."

"Really?" I asked hopefully, and into the stillness of the early morning, Aya's soft laughter was like a beautiful sonata.

"Really," she confirmed.  "I wasn't just pretending to get along with her.  Besides, if I team up with her, we can really get under your skin, and you know how I love to do that."

I frowned.  Maybe this happy ending wasn't so happy.  Maybe it was for Aya and Kuniko, but not for me.  Not if I had to tolerate those two and their relentless teasing.

"Tell you what," I muttered.  "You and Kuniko go off, become best friends, and live happily ever after.  I'll go and live with monks on a Tibetan mountain peak."

She ignored my biting statement and laid herself down, pulling the blankets up to her chin.

"I think we should have her over."

I mimicked her actions and lay down.

"Who?  Kuni-chan?"

"No, the Crown Princess,"  Aya said, rolling her eyes.  "Of course Kuniko."

"Just before you walked in at the store, she was bugging me about wanting to come over.  I don't know if she still wants to, but if she does, then we should let her," I babbled.

There was a silence on Aya's end, and I looked at her to see if she'd fallen asleep.  Her eyes were still open, and she was looking up at the ceiling pensively.  She looked even more tired than I felt, so I squeezed her hand.  This caused her to turn her head to look at me.

"We'll make plans later.  Let's sleep now."

She smiled and nodded, closing her eyes as if she'd been waiting for my permission to enter Slumber Land.  I loosened my hold on her hand and closed my eyes, too.

"I'm sorry, Miki," she mumbled, forcing me to open my eyes.

"Why?" I asked in surprise.

"Because..." she muttered in a half-asleep tone.  "I went to bother you at work."

I chuckled.

"That just means I get to return the favour one day."

She smiled, her eyes closed.

"You can visit me any time."

And that was the last sentence spoken between us before we fell asleep.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 16, 2007, 01:43:28 PM
Chapter 16

I woke up an hour and a half later to my alarm clock.  I raised my head feeling like I had been dead and was being revived slowly, the knife being pulled out of my gut rather than being pushed in.  Aya didn't stir as I hit the snooze button and let my head fall back onto my pillow.  Ten minutes later, my clock rang again, and I got up, muttering rude things about the alarm and its maker.

Aya remained dead, rolled on her side and facing away from me.  My hands hovered over her ribs for a few seconds as I considered shocking her awake, but I remembered that she hadn't even slept two hours yet.  I backed away slowly, grabbed the clothes and things I would need, and left the room, closing the door gently.  I got ready quietly in the living room, and then as a second though, I wrote a note saying good morning and reminding her innocently to pick up her clothes from the floor because I certainly wasn't going to do it for her.

I had to go into U-Con early.  At lunch break I would come back here to eat quickly and then go to 7-Eleven to do a long afternoon and evening shift.  Aya had something to do in the evening, and I might possibly not see her until the next day.

I opened the door to the bedroom quietly and crept in.  Aya was still facing away.  I studied her carefully.  She was absolutely still.  Too still.  Her torso wasn't moving at all like it should have been if she'd been alive.  I was suddenly gripped with an icy fear.  Was she even alive?  What if something had happened overnight and she'd stopped breathing while in her sleep?  Did I have enough time to save her?

Nervously, I put a hand on her back, and my legs weakened in relief when I felt a slow, steady beat.

"Don't scare me like that," I scolded her softly.

She made no effort to reply.  Of course not.  She was asleep.

I sat there for a few minutes, my hand on her back, watching her still body, waiting for it to move the slightest bit.  It didn't, and I shook my head in wonder.  Was this what I acted like when I was asleep?  Everyone told me I slept like a log.  Or at least I was stone still when I wasn't flailing about and having conversations with myself or fighting battles against particles in the air.

I checked my watch and saw that it was time to go.  Before that, I reset the alarm clock for nine.  That would leave Aya an hour and a half to get ready for her meeting.  For a few weeks in a row now we'd sat down on Sunday evening and talked about our schedules just so that we'd know when the other was going to be around.  It was a good idea.  This way we didn't have to keep asking each other questions like "What time do you have to wake up?" or "Will you be home tonight?"

Placing the alarm clock just out of arm's reach so that she'd be forced to get up to turn it off, I took a last look at the pink pyjama-clad girl and left after I'd committed the scene to memory.

I overslept on the train, waking up just as the doors were closing at my stop.  I had to double back, which meant once I got back to the proper station, I had to run all the way to the building so that I would be on time.  I rode the elevator up to my floor and walked out calmly to see Tsuyoshi with his head down on his desk.  He wasn't moving.  Was it Day of the Dead?  First Aya.  Now Tsuyoshi.

"Guchi!" I snapped at him, approaching the desk.

I heard him emit a low sound of acknowledgement.

"What's the matter with you?" I demanded.

He lifted his head up and looked at me with bloodshot eyes, making me take a step back.

"What in the..."

"I'm dead," he groaned

I peered into his eyes carefully.  They were completely red and they swam in his sockets, not focusing on one thing.  I looked at his cheeks, and they, too, were the colour of a tomato.  His hair looked windblown, and his clothes were dishevelled.  I began to form a picture in my mind of what had happened.

"Let me guess," I started, taking off my jacket and sitting in the chair beside him.  "You went out partying last night, missed your train home, maybe did some late night karaoke with the rest of your chums, and then spent the last few hours before trains re-opened at a love hotel with some girl whose name you don't know."

He shook his head, swallowed hard, and then gripped my wrist weakly.

"There was no love hotel," he wheezed out.

"Oh," I laughed.  "So you guys just did it in a parking lot?"

He tightened his hold on my wrist.

"There was no girl."

I gave him a sceptical look just to annoy him, but I had no reason not to believe him.

"We stayed up drinking until I caught a train home in the morning to change and then rush over here."

"So you're still drunk?" I asked amusedly.

He nodded.

"But I feel sick..."

I removed his hand from my wrist and moved away from him.

"Just warn me if you're about to purge your entire system of all that alcohol.  I'll get out of your way."

He went stark white, and I wondered if he felt sick because he was imagining the future I'd predicted for him or because that future had come.

The latter.

He bolted out of his chair and raced to the washroom as I winced.  I'd go and check on him in a few minutes.  There was nothing I could do for him at the moment.

I settled into my space and then took a trip out to the vending machines in the hallway.  I bought a couple of bottles of water and brought them back with me, opening one and drinking a quarter of it.  Ten minutes had passed and Tsuyoshi had still not emerged from the washroom.  I grabbed one of the bottles and headed over to the men's washroom, knocking loudly.

"Guchi!" I called out.  "Are you okay?"

"Yeah," came the delayed, weak response.  "Dandy."

I rolled my eyes.

"I'm coming in," I announced, waiting for a count of three and then pushing the door open.

Tsuyoshi was sitting and leaning against a wall, his knees pulled up to his chest.  He looked up at me when I walked in and tried to get up.

"Don't stand up.  Here," I said, handing him the bottle.

He took it with a grateful look and took a sip, almost gagging as he swallowed.

I wanted to lecture him about the idiocy of drinking until five in the morning on a work day, but I was sure it was the last thing he wanted to hear.  He could tell he'd made a big mistake.

"What did you drink?" I asked.

"Beer, shochu, wine," he mumbled pathetically.

I clucked my tongue at him, but said nothing about his mistake of mixing his alcohols.

"Will you be okay?"

He nodded.

"I think I got rid of most of it," he said with a grimace.

"Good.  Now wash up and come back to the desk.  I'm missing out on my Guchi time."

I started to walk out.

"Hey, Miki-chan," he called out.

It had taken a lot of work to get him to start calling me that, but I'd finally prevailed recently.

"Thank you for helping me."

He gave me a happy look that made me groan.

"Don't you start falling in love with me or something," I threatened him, and he grinned shyly.

"Ew, with you?  No way."

"What do you mean 'ew'?!" I demanded angrily.  "Ew?!  Do I inspire 'ew' in people?"

Little boyish (and still slightly drunk) Tsuyoshi giggled.

"No.  I was just kidding."

"Good.  But I wasn't.  Don't you dare get some stupid crush on me."

With that, I turned on my heels and stalked out of the men's washroom while smiling secretly to myself.

Katherine happened to be walking by when I stepped out, and she stopped, looking up at the "men's toilet" sign and then at me, raising an eyebrow and pulling one of her oh-so-Western expressions.

"Umm..." I said.

"I won't ask," she said.

"Tsuyoshi-kun's in there," I told her, which made her other eyebrow go up to join the first one.

"Okay, now I have to ask," she said with a naughty grin.

"Oh, but, no!" I said quickly to destroy any incorrect assumptions in her mind.  "He's not feeling well."

"Whatever.  A woman following a boy into the men's washroom whether he's sick or not is a sign of something."

"No.  I mean, he's really sick.  I was just making sure he was alive."

Damnit, Katherine.

"Be careful, sweetie.  He's six years younger than you.  Just remember that when you're ready for marriage and he's still out partying until all hours of the morning."

"Oh, for heaven's sake!" I cried out.  "The guy is like the family puppy.  I wouldn't look at him like that in a million years!"

Katherine smirked.

"I know, but I like seeing you get all incensed.  It's fun.  I'll catch up with you later."

With a jaunty wave, she continued going wherever she was headed.

Aya, Kuniko, Tsuyoshi, Katherine...  My "friends" all had at least one thing in common - they all liked to piss me off on purpose.  Did I attract that kind of person around me?  Or was it just that Tokyo only had either friendly people who liked to bug me or complete jerks like Hasegawa and Ohashi?  I went back to my desk pondering this question.

Tsuyoshi joined me a few minutes later, and I kept him distracted with chitchat, asking him nosey questions about his life and his family.  At ten-thirty, I received a message on my phone.  I thought it was Aya at first, but it turned out to be Katherine.

If you have time, can you come down here for a few minutes?

I made sure Tsuyoshi would be all right by himself, and I skipped down to the dance studio.

"What's up?" I asked, walking into the large practice room Katherine was sitting in. 

She was fiddling with a stereo, searching through tracks on a CD.  When she saw me, she stopped and picked up a pile of clothes beside her, tossing it to me.  I caught it reflexively, confused.

"Change into that and give me twenty minutes of your time."

It was an order.  Not a request.  I looked around for a change room of some sort, but I saw none.

"Miki, it's just me in here," she pointed out.  "Get changed quickly."

I shrugged coolly and got changed in the middle of the room while Katherine continued to search through her CD.  She finally settled on a track and a vaguely familiar song started playing as I walked up to her.

"Over there," she said, pointing to the centre of the room.

I followed her instructions.  I guess this was my test.  Would I fare better than Tsuyoshi?  Katherine turned the volume up and I frowned.  Why the hell was she playing a Morning Musume song?  Out of all the music out there, she had to choose that?  She couldn't have known I'd wanted to audition to join the silly group that was now defunct.  She also couldn't have known that I knew Aya, someone very much connected to that group.

"Dance," she commanded me.

I stood there awkwardly.

"Um..." I mumbled.  "I don't know this dance.  Or this song, really."

"You don't?" she asked.

"No," I laughed, gaining confidence.  "I might have seen the promo video once five or six years ago."

"For some reason I thought you'd be able to pick up on this one," she said, turning the volume down.  "What do you know?"

I shrugged.

"I don't know.  Nobody's ever taught me a dance before."

She looked at me in an exasperated way.

"Don't you even know one of those stupid and catchy boyband dances?  And please don't tell anyone I called them stupid."

I shrugged again.

"No."

Why was she assuming I had been trained before or that I memorised dances?

She sighed and changed the track to something I couldn't recognise, standing up and coming to stand in front of me.

"Then we've got to get you familiar with something.  Follow me."

And so for the next thirty minutes, Katherine taught me a dance.  We repeated everything over and over again, and I was grateful that I was wearing different clothes.  I began to sweat like a horse.  When half an hour was up, Katherine went to sit down, which I assumed meant it was break time.  I followed her, but she turned around and pointed to the centre of the room.

"No.  You're going to do it on your own now."

I sulked for a second, but turned around obediently and went to the centre of the room while Katherine sat down and started the music.  She counted me in, and I did what I had learned to the best of my ability.  I messed up a few times, but overall, I got all the steps.  I finished the short little excerpt and gave Katherine a look as she stopped the music.

"So?" I asked her, waiting for her evaluation.

"Not bad," she said honestly, standing up.  "Your rhythm went a little off in some parts.  You tend to rush.  Mmm.  But in general, you're smooth."

"Better than Tsuyoshi-kun?" I asked.

She laughed.

"Much better than the family puppy."

I smiled in relief.  I had passed.

"What would-" I started, but I was interrupted by a holler from the door.

"Fujimoto!" barked my boss.  "What are you doing down here?!  Tsuyoshi-kun is dying up there alone answering phones."

"I'm on my way, sir!" I cried out, rushing past him and back upstairs, completely forgetting to change my clothes.

Five minutes later, Katherine came upstairs, putting my clothes down on the desk in front of me as I was on the phone.  I mouthed an embarrassed "thank you" and changed as soon as the phone call was done.

Tsuyoshi and I kept busy all morning.  He went through phases where he felt perfect and then phrases where he felt crummy.  When I noticed him getting a little green, I'd distract him with conversation.  Lunch time rolled around.  Tsuyoshi was on a full day shift, so I said goodbye and told him to call me if he felt sick.

"I'll be working, too, but I'll keep you distracted with my brilliant conversation on the phone."

"Miki-chan," he whined.  "Can't you give me, like, one of your friends' numbers?  Don't you know anybody you can introduce me to?"

"What, I'm not good enough?" I glared at him.

"I want to date a real girl," he retorted.

My jaw dropped in horror, and I was about to hit him when I realised that doing so would not be very girlish and thus back up his statement.  I stuck my nose up in the air.

"See you later, runt."

I walked out, blocking out his protests.  Either I had to get a new set of friends or I had to move back to Hokkaido.

The afternoon was a little more low-key.  Nothing memorable happened except that I got an e-mail from Aya saying hi and thanks for setting the alarm that morning.

I worked with Shiroshita until four-thirty, and then with Asato, our store's baby at sixteen years old.  Her school had allowed her to get a part time job in order to supplement her family's low income.  She was a sweet and bright girl who inspired protective feelings in most of us at that store.  Working with her was pleasant because she didn't talk back, and she didn't like seeing me get riled up.  We didn't have a whole lot in common, but our conversations weren't riddled with awkward pauses.

Asato and I were supposed to finish our shifts at nine-thirty that evening.  At a quarter past nine, the first of our replacements arrived.  A minute after him, the second of our replacements arrived.  It was Kuniko.  When she saw me, she waved and then quickly went to get changed in the back.  She came back out and walked over to me.  I was fixing up some products on a messy shelf.

"Hi," she said.

"Hi.  Late night shift, huh?" I asked, wondering if our conversation was really going to be as awkward as it was shaping up to be.

"Only until one-thirty.  Koda-kun's coming to replace me."

"I see."

With business taken care of, there was nothing to do but either talk about something else or say goodbye.  Kuniko made no sign of moving off, so I took a deep breath.

"Can we just forget yesterday ever happened?" I asked.

"Why should we?  I mean, it was just an accident.  And hey, now I know.  You're spared the work of having to tell me."

It was perhaps the most mature thing she'd ever said to me.  I looked up at the ceiling and let out a few quiet laughs.

"Do you still want to come over?"

"Sure.  As long as you two aren't all icky and stuff.  I can't stand people like that."

I let out a jubilant cheer.

"Finally!  Something we agree on!"

Asato looked over at us, wondering what we were talking about.  Kuniko opened her big mouth to quell the young girl's curiosity.

"She's just excited because she totally scored last night with this cool foreign guy who-"

I grabbed Kuniko and covered her mouth my hand.

"And she's just a big liar!" I called out to Asato, who gave us a worried look and quickly bent her head down to study the counter.

I let go of Kuniko.

"You're such a brat," I sneered at her.

"Anyway, when can I come over?" she asked, ignoring my insults.

I sighed.

Kuniko will always be Kuniko.  There's nothing about me that could make her not act this way around me.

"I'll let you know when Aya-chan's free.  Now do you understand why I kept saying she's really busy?"

Kuniko nodded heartily.

"Yeah, sorry about that before.  I thought you were exaggerating.  But I know that idols have it rough.  I had a friend whose sister's cousin went out with a guy who knew Koda Kumi's sister."

As if that had anything to do with understanding an idol's life!

"Kuni-chan, that has nothing to do with-"

"And then I looked the word 'gullible' up in the dictionary and I saw a picture of you beside it."

I pushed her away from me and started to walk to the back room.  Aya was going to be home late and I was hungry.  I would cook something and then save her the leftovers.  If she'd had a bad day, at least that would cheer her up.

"Since you're here, take over for me.  I'm leaving a few minutes early," I announced.

"Oh, why?  Your precious Aya-chan's waiting for you?" Kuniko teased me.

"As a matter of fact, she's not," I huffed out.

"Then I'm sure you're going to go and cook a wonderful meal for her when she gets home all exhausted."

My shoulders stiffened and I refused to look back.

"No," I lied.  "I'm not."

"Whatever you say.  Have a nice night."

I could hear her voice dripping with suggestion.  I wanted to yell at her some more, but Asato was around, and I didn't want to give her the impression that I was a scary person.  I went to the back, changed out of my shirt, and grabbed my things.  Asato looked at me and then at her watch when she saw me leaving.

"Kuni-chan here offered to give me five minutes of time absolutely free," I said, winking at Kuniko.

"I didn't.  And don't you dare follow Fujimocchan's example.  She's a delinquent.  You're a good kid, Asato-chan," Kuniko butted in.

"Bye-bye, girls!" I said, not paying attention to her words and waving.

Asato returned the wave shakily, wondering who to side with.  Kuniko harrumphed and crossed her arms, but there was a certain softness in her eyes that assured me that she was enjoying herself.  I didn't know how she'd managed to transform her behaviour from shocked silence to brazen teasing over the course of twenty-four hours.  I walked out of the store telling myself that it was only a matter of time until Asato started treating me the way all my friends did.

I went to Aya's, cooked, ate, bathed, and tried to stay up as long as possible.  It was midnight and she hadn't come back yet, so I gave up waiting and went to bed, falling asleep quite quickly.

I woke up in the pitch black of the night and felt warm.  Something besides a blanket was wrapped around me.  Arms.  I turned my head and saw Aya sleeping right up against me.  I looked over at the clock.  Three in the morning.  I smiled and didn't wake her up to ask her if she'd eaten the dinner I'd made.  I let her rest.

Even if we couldn't see each other during the day, it was good enough to have those one or two hours when we could be together even in sleep.  We worked hard to earn moments like that.  I felt like she was working hard for me.  A part of me, too, was working hard for her.  Even when apart, we were still together in our minds.

Kuniko would kill me if she could hear my mushy thoughts.  I shook my mind free of such things, snuggled my head into the pillow, and closed my eyes with a satisfied sigh, feeling warm, feeling protected, feeling happy.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 16, 2007, 02:21:38 PM
Gawd, the last few sentences were so sweet, I think three of my teeth fell out. But I love it.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 16, 2007, 03:42:34 PM
Kuniko is going to be the death of them, isnt she!? Shes gonna slip up and force them apart by spreadind word to the media or do something more physically like drive her car through their apartment...whcih isnt possible...because they live on the fifth floor or something. The tension is killing me!! But Im enjoying the crazy sweetness as is.

Aya's reactions are a bit of a worry. Is she bottling up or is she genuine?

Gosh I need sleep..
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 17, 2007, 07:13:32 AM
Quote
Hasegawa is the perfect candidate for trouble, I'd say. I have no solid proof, but I think it's him because he's a shady, peripheral character.  Broken limbs, Avian influenza? As if!  XD   But if they did take place, then he must have caused them to happen somehow...  :roll: Hey, he might as well be a private investigator or a freelance journalist!
/me prepares to conk Amarghetta.


Quote
Hmm... actually, I'm starting to worry that what I have planned won't live up to anyone's expectations.  You're all expecting the Moon to explode and Earth to be colonised by Martians while Aya and Miki die leading the rebellion, but that's not quite what I have in mind for this one.
If you want, you can just end it all with a bunch of romantic, AyaxMiki fluff. We'll just have to deal with it as best we can. :D


Chapter 15

Quote
"Hi.  Are you asleep?" she whispered.

"No," I croaked, clearing my throat afterwards.  "I'm awake."

She walked in closer to look at my face.

"Are you sure?"

I smirked and hit her head gently.

"I'm sure."

She had thought I was sleep-talking.
Wouldn't be too far of a stretch considering what Miki's capable of doing while she's sleeping. :P


Quote
"I know it's not the best time of day to bring it up, and if you want to wait till later, that's fine, but you said you had to talk to me about something..." Aya said abruptly, trailing off, reminding me that I still had to tell her about what happened with Kuniko.

The curiosity must have been eating her alive all evening, I realised.  I took a few deep breaths, returning her look, and then without any melodramatic airs, I told her the simple story of what had happened right under her nose at the convenience store.

"... and so after she apologised, she said she wouldn't say anything to anyone."

"That's why you asked me to leave..." Aya mumbled, still stuck on the first half of the story.
Aya must have been worried that Miki was upset with her for showing up so suddenly and then teaming up with Kuniko to tag-team-tease her. At least now it's all out in the open, as it should be. This is definitely something that Aya needed to know about, and it's something that she needed to hear from Miki herself instead of finding out about it second hand or from some tabloid.


Quote
"Why didn't you tell me any of this before?"

...

"I'm really sorry," I said calmly.  "I was a bit surprised, too, and I thought it was better if you left and I tried to talk to Kuniko by myself..."

...

"I'm not mad at you," she said matter of factly.

I looked back up at her, and she smiled briefly.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah.  I was just wondering why, but it seems like a good enough reason."
Aya knows that Miki's the type of person who'll want to fix the problems she causes herself. It's part of her strong, independant nature that Aya knows is within her.  She knows that Miki wanted to try and take care of this because she didn't want to needlessly worry Aya about it, which is just such a sweet gesture...that it's hard to get mad about.  :love:


Quote
"I'll give Kuniko the benefit of the doubt.  If you trust her, then I'll trust her.  Besides, I like her."

...

"I wasn't just pretending to get along with her.  Besides, if I team up with her, we can really get under your skin, and you know how I love to do that."

I frowned.  Maybe this happy ending wasn't so happy.  Maybe it was for Aya and Kuniko, but not for me.  Not if I had to tolerate those two and their relentless teasing.
Oh come on, we all know that it would be BIG time fun! ;D  Besides, if Miki has to endure all that teasing she could always get her "revenge", on Aya at least, later on in the night. :twisted:


Quote
"I think we should have her over."

I mimicked her actions and lay down.

"Who?  Kuni-chan?"

"No, the Crown Princess,"  Aya said, rolling her eyes.  "Of course Kuniko."

"Just before you walked in at the store, she was bugging me about wanting to come over.  I don't know if she still wants to, but if she does, then we should let her," I babbled.
Hmmm...Aya's reaction makes me wonder. Granted it could just be the fatigue of having worked so late, but it could almost sound like she was joking about inviting Kuniko over, and that she was expecting Miki to completely protest against it (if, for anything else, to avoid the teasing that she would have to endure). The fact that Miki basically said "yeah we should" seems to have caught Aya off-guard, like she didn't think Miki would actually go along with it. :O


Quote
"I'm sorry, Miki," she mumbled, forcing me to open my eyes.

"Why?" I asked in surprise.

"Because..." she muttered in a half-asleep tone.  "I went to bother you at work."

I chuckled.

"That just means I get to return the favour one day."

She smiled, her eyes closed.

"You can visit me any time."
And we all know what would happen THEN now, don't we? GAM SHALL LIVE!!! :rockon:



Chapter 16
Quote
For a few weeks in a row now we'd sat down on Sunday evening and talked about our schedules just so that we'd know when the other was going to be around.  It was a good idea.  This way we didn't have to keep asking each other questions like "What time do you have to wake up?" or "Will you be home tonight?"
Sensible. Practical. It gives them an idea of when and how much time they'll get to spend with each other.


Quote
I rode the elevator up to my floor and walked out calmly to see Tsuyoshi with his head down on his desk.  He wasn't moving.  Was it Day of the Dead?  First Aya.  Now Tsuyoshi.

"Guchi!" I snapped at him, approaching the desk.

...

He lifted his head up and looked at me with bloodshot eyes, making me take a step back.

"What in the..."

"I'm dead," he groaned
Ok, either he royally messed up a task he was supposed to do, and he's been unable to sleep because he's been stressing himself out of his mind over it...or he's got a killer hangover.  ;)


Quote
"Let me guess," I started, taking off my jacket and sitting in the chair beside him.  "You went out partying last night, missed your train home, maybe did some late night karaoke with the rest of your chums, and then spent the last few hours before trains re-opened at a love hotel with some girl whose name you don't know."

He shook his head, swallowed hard, and then gripped my wrist weakly.

"There was no love hotel," he wheezed out.
Ok, but Miki got the rest of it right, right?  :grin:


Quote
"There was no girl."
He better not say "It was a guy".  :rofl:


Quote
"We stayed up drinking until I caught a train home in the morning to change and then rush over here."

"So you're still drunk?" I asked amusedly.

He nodded.
Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooood job there kiddo. :thumbsup


Quote
"Hey, Miki-chan," he called out.

It had taken a lot of work to get him to start calling me that, but I'd finally prevailed recently.

"Thank you for helping me."
Heh, no wonder in WNTBD, he worshipped Miki like she was his older sister. Who else but her would take care of him like this here at work? :hee:


Quote
"Don't you start falling in love with me or something," I threatened him, and he grinned shyly.

"Ew, with you?  No way."

"What do you mean 'ew'?!" I demanded angrily.  "Ew?!  Do I inspire 'ew' in people?"

Little boyish (and still slightly drunk) Tsuyoshi giggled.

"No.  I was just kidding."
Of course he was. To not love Miki? Un-possible. :yep:



Quote
Katherine happened to be walking by when I stepped out, and she stopped, looking up at the "men's toilet" sign and then at me, raising an eyebrow and pulling one of her oh-so-Western expressions.

"Umm..." I said.

"I won't ask," she said.

"Tsuyoshi-kun's in there," I told her, which made her other eyebrow go up to join the first one.

"Okay, now I have to ask," she said with a naughty grin.
Katherine wants the juicy details; though in reality, she probably knows that it's really just something innocent (or at the very least, not something pervvy).


Quote
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" I cried out.  "The guy is like the family puppy.  I wouldn't look at him like that in a million years!"

Katherine smirked.

"I know, but I like seeing you get all incensed.  It's fun.  I'll catch up with you later."

With a jaunty wave, she continued going wherever she was headed.
EVERYBODY ON THE "I LOVE TO TEASE MIKI" BANDWAGON!!!  :on lol:


Quote
At ten-thirty, I received a message on my phone.  I thought it was Aya at first, but it turned out to be Katherine.

If you have time, can you come down here for a few minutes?

I made sure Tsuyoshi would be all right by himself, and I skipped down to the dance studio.

"What's up?" I asked, walking into the large practice room Katherine was sitting in.

She was fiddling with a stereo, searching through tracks on a CD.  When she saw me, she stopped and picked up a pile of clothes beside her, tossing it to me.  I caught it reflexively, confused.

"Change into that and give me twenty minutes of your time."
Now we see if Katherine's instinct's were right about Miki. :)


Quote
Katherine turned the volume up and I frowned.  Why the hell was she playing a Morning Musume song?  Out of all the music out there, she had to choose that?  She couldn't have known I'd wanted to audition to join the silly group that was now defunct.  She also couldn't have known that I knew Aya, someone very much connected to that group.
Oh the delicious irony of it all (though it sucks to hear that MM is actually confirmed as being defunct here).


Quote
"Miki-chan," he whined.  "Can't you give me, like, one of your friends' numbers?  Don't you know anybody you can introduce me to?"

"What, I'm not good enough?" I glared at him.

"I want to date a real girl," he retorted.
What Tsuyoshi MEANT to say was "Of course you're good enough, but I know that I don't deserve a goddess like you." :pimp:

:w00t: Hey, she should introduce him to Kuniko-chan (Kuniko The Greater/Kuniko from 7-11, NOT the bitch Kuniko that works at U-Con).


Quote
It was Kuniko. 

...

"Hi," she said.
...

Kuniko made no sign of moving off, so I took a deep breath.

"Can we just forget yesterday ever happened?" I asked.

"Why should we?  I mean, it was just an accident.  And hey, now I know.  You're spared the work of having to tell me."
She DOES have a point there. Now that she knows, Miki can relax and not worry herself so much about it.


Quote
"Do you still want to come over?"

"Sure.  As long as you two aren't all icky and stuff.  I can't stand people like that."

I let out a jubilant cheer.

"Finally!  Something we agree on!"
Well, it depends on your definition of "icky" now, doesn't it?  If it's "Aya-icky", then it means all the romantic, mushy, googly-eyed stuff that Miki SAYS she hates, but deep inside probably loves just as much as Aya.   :roll:

If it's "Miki-icky"...well...Kuniko heard that first-hand when she answered Aya's phone. XD


Quote
Now do you understand why I kept saying she's really busy?"

Kuniko nodded heartily.

"Yeah, sorry about that before.  I thought you were exaggerating.  But I know that idols have it rough.  I had a friend whose sister's cousin went out with a guy who knew Koda Kumi's sister."

As if that had anything to do with understanding an idol's life!

"Kuni-chan, that has nothing to do with-"

"And then I looked the word 'gullible' up in the dictionary and I saw a picture of you beside it."
BOOYAH! Score another one for Kuniko! :wahaha:


Quote
Even if we couldn't see each other during the day, it was good enough to have those one or two hours when we could be together even in sleep.  We worked hard to earn moments like that.  I felt like she was working hard for me.  A part of me, too, was working hard for her.  Even when apart, we were still together in our minds.

Kuniko would kill me if she could hear my mushy thoughts.
Told ya Miki loves the mushy stuff, even if she won't admit it.   :wriggly:


Gosh I need sleep..
/me looks at clock (2:00 AM) :dizzy:.

Sleep is good.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 18, 2007, 01:18:58 AM
Quote
Hasegawa is the perfect candidate for trouble, I'd say. I have no solid proof, but I think it's him because he's a shady, peripheral character.  Broken limbs, Avian influenza? As if!  XD   But if they did take place, then he must have caused them to happen somehow...  :roll: Hey, he might as well be a private investigator or a freelance journalist!
/me prepares to conk Amarghetta.

Ok, time to get myself a helmet!  XD

ETA: Hey, OTN1, will Sayu show up in this fic?

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 18, 2007, 08:16:22 AM
Gawd, the last few sentences were so sweet, I think three of my teeth fell out. But I love it.
You still have teeth left?  I lost all mine a while ago.
If you want, you can just end it all with a bunch of romantic, AyaxMiki fluff. We'll just have to deal with it as best we can. :D
Sorry, but rndmnwierd's running low on teeth.

Amarghetta, I wasn't really planning on it, but I like to leave my doors open, so if an opportunity presents itself (like if Miki needs even more people to harass and tease her), then I'll throw her into the mix.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 18, 2007, 11:34:27 AM
Sayu teasing Miki = Hell freezes over, that would be equal to the Moon exploding and Earth being colonised by Martians. I do see Sayu as a convenience store employee, though.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 18, 2007, 12:34:11 PM
Hah, it sure would be the end of the world.

Chapter 17

The next morning I woke up alone to an empty home.  It was six-fifty-nine, one minute before my cell phone alarm would go off.  I stopped it before it could start.  I sighed and got up, walking around the apartment and seeing that Aya was already gone for the day.  I half-heartedly got ready for work.

I missed her.  I was growing far too attached.  Since when did I miss someone so much?  I didn't need to be around people every minute of the day.  Yet with Aya, it felt necessary to talk at least just a little every day.  Every morning.  Every evening.

And it was with such thoughts that I began my day.

That day and the next few until the weekend were straightforward, although fun.  Aya and I got a few chances to spend time together in the evening, and I went out a couple of times with some friends.

Kuniko and Koda took me to a place in Roppongi where they shoved me in front of the group and forced me to speak English to foreigners they wanted to talk to, using me as a third-rate translation device.  Some help I was.  It took me four minutes of confused conversation and hand gestures to figure out that the group of girls Koda wanted to chat with were from Germany and did not speak English.  We had all been drinking, but still, there was no excuse for the amount of time it took for the revelation to hit.  That story made Aya chuckle when I told her the next morning.

The weekend came, and we both had Saturday and Sunday off, a rare treat on both sides.  On Saturday morning, the alarm clock started ringing, and instead of slapping my hand down on it, I slapped Aya's shoulder.

"You set the alarm, you dummy.  Why?" I grumbled.

She replied by crawling half over me, stopping the alarm, and collapsing on top of me to sleep, our bodies forming a crooked T shape.  I ignored the strange position, finding it quite warm, actually, and fell asleep.  Ten minutes later, the alarm rang again, waking me up.

"Turn it off," I demanded grumpily.

Aya pulled herself up and turned the confounded machine off.  Before she could settle back down in the same position, I rolled onto my side, pushing her aside and curling my legs up.  Aya proceeded to resettle and flip around, leaning her back against my legs as if they were a backrest.

"Get offa me," I mumbled sleepily.

"Get up!" she sang out in a voice far too cheerful for the morning.

"Offa me.  It's Saturday morning."

She didn't budge.

"You'd better get up.  I made plans for us.  Kind of a surprise until now."

"What plans?" I asked, growing a little interested.

"It's still a surprise," she said sneakily.

I growled and rolled onto my back, pushing Aya off of my legs and making her decide to lie back down.

"Don't be like that.  Tell me.  Otherwise I won't get up."

She sighed dramatically.

"Fine.  We're going over to Shiba-chan's for lunch.  I thought I'd better not jinx it.  But oh well.  What are the chances of you getting called in for yet another emergency shift?"

I opened my mouth to express my happiness about finally getting to meet Shibata when my phone rang. 

Aya just had to open her big mouth!

I rolled over her menacingly.

"I'm going to kill you for saying that.  You've gone and ruined your own plans," I growled, and I glared at her, my nose a centimetre away from hers.

The phone continued to ring, and she grabbed my shirt.

"You don't have to answer it, you know," she said coyly, but I rubbed my nose against hers and changed my glare to a smile.

"I know.  But if I don't, I'll have to call back later."

I rolled away easily, her hold on my shirt a superficial one, and I grabbed my phone.  The number confirmed my fear.  It was 7-Eleven.

"Hello?" I mumbled, not bothering to mask that I'd just woken up.

"Good morning, Fujimocchan!" came the energetic greeting, and I sighed in partial relief that it wasn't Fukuda.

"Kuni-chan.  Why are you calling me?"

"Oh, did I wake you up?" she asked innocently.

"What do you think?" I snorted.

"Aw, sorry.  I just wanted to- hey, is Aya-chan there with you?"

Ugg

My eyebrows twitched.

"Do you want to talk to her or me?" I asked, avoiding the question.

"Oh, so she is?"

"Kuni-chan, what do you want?"

"Ooohh, she is," she sang. 

If she had been in front of me, I would have strangled her.

"Tell her I'm sorry if I woke her up, too.  Or maybe you guys were already awake.  Maybe I'm interrupting a moment or-"

"Ogasawara!" I yelled, calling her by her family name, a rare move for anyone addressing Kuniko.

"Yessir!" she cried out exaggeratedly.

I looked over at Aya apologetically, and she was looking at me in mild surprise.  She'd sat up, leaning against the side wall, her arms crossed.

"What are you calling about?" I asked quietly and politely.

"Oh, well, I have a few minutes before my shift starts.  I was wondering if you were free next Tuesday.  Koda's got another place lined up for us."

I thanked my lucky stars that she wasn't calling me to ask to cover her shift for her.  Aya had gotten curious, and she came to kneel beside me, putting her ear to my cell phone.  I pushed her away and gave her a silly look.

"Uh, next Tuesday?" I asked, momentarily distracted.

"Yes, next Tuesday."

"With Koda-kun?"

Aya scrunched her nose up when I said his name, and I laughed silently, sticking my face in hers to dare her to protest.

"With Koda-kun."

"And where is this super sexy club?" I asked, and Aya pushed me down onto the bed, making me yelp out a laugh.

"Are you okay?" Kuniko asked.

I stifled my laughter as an errant Aya crawled up to sit on me.

"Yeah, I'm fine.  Where's the club?"

"Hey Koda-kun!" Kuniko yelled off the phone, and I deduced from this move that she and Koda were working the shift together.

While Kuniko confirmed the location, I looked up at Aya, who had a malicious smile on her face.

"Stop it," I mouthed at her, but she pretended not to notice as she began to play with the bottom of my shirt.

This is too much, I thought.

"What?" Kuniko asked, back on the line.

Oops.  Had I said that aloud?

"Nothing," I laughed nervously.  "So where's the place?"

"Shinjuku.  Near the place we went to as part of your welcome party."

I remembered that place well.  I hadn't forgotten about Leader and her girls, and I swore that one day I'd find them and-

"Hey!  Your hands are cold!"

Aya had stuck her hands under my shirt.

"Umm..." Kuniko drawled.  "How about I leave you two alone now?"

"No, it's fine," I growled, using my free hand to grab Aya's wrists and push her hands away from me.  "She's asleep and doesn't know what she's doing."

"I am not asleep," Aya piped up loudly, grabbing the phone from me.  "Hi, Kuni-chan.  It's me," she said sweetly, settling down beside me on her stomach as if preparing for a long session of girl talk.

I heard Kuniko's voice come from the phone, mirroring Aya's pleasant tone.  I crossed my arms and let out an irritated huff.  Without looking, Aya put her hand on mine.

"Yeah, she's getting all grumpy now that we're talking."

I flicked the palm of her hand with my finger, making her wince and pull her hand away.  I smiled smugly as she listened to Kuniko.

"Got it.  Oh, and if you want to come over some time next week, I have lots of open evenings.  Let me know when you're free.  Do you have my number and e-mail address?"

I felt dread as I could decipher Kuniko's answer on the phone.  "No," I heard her say.

"When we're done here, I'll e-mail you my information.  Miki-chan's too jealous to willingly give it out."

"No I'm not," I protested, but she shot me a look that said "Be quiet!  I'm on the phone!"

I shrunk back and shut my mouth.  Why was she allowed to bother me while I was on the phone, but I wasn't allowed to bother her?

Aya wrapped up her conversation with Kuniko, and they finally hung up.  I held my hand out to collect my phone, but Aya turned onto her side facing away from me.  I propped myself up to reach over and grab it back when I realised she was e-mailing Kuniko.  I grudgingly let her send her information with my e-mail address while I traced the word "brat" onto her shoulder, circling it with a heart, and then rubbing my hand over the skin as if to erase it.  When she had sent the message, she shoved the phone in front of my nose, and I took it from her, closing it and reaching behind me to put it on the table.

"Now, shall we go and meet Shiba-chan?" she asked.

I looked down at her.  She looked perfectly awake and harmless.  Only I knew the truth about what a conniving little devil she was.  I smiled toothily.  It was all very sexy.  Looking so cute but being so bad.  Who would have thought the Matsuura Aya of Japan was like that?  Not I.

"Does Shiba-chan like to tease people?" I asked.

"Don't be silly," she scoffed.  "Shiba-chan is far too mature for that kind of thing."

I bit back a remark about her own childish behaviour when she was around Kuniko.  I recognised the potential to get into another one of our long, playful spats, which were fun, but time-consuming.  We didn't have that kind of time.

"Then let's get ready," I said, and we got out of bed.

Aya e-mailed Shibata when we were approaching her apartment, and as far as I could tell, Shibata's response was positive.  The plans were still on.  I'd been half expecting to have the plans cancelled again.

Shibata's apartment building was just as nice as Aya's.  She might not have had the same monthly paycheque, but from what I'd heard, she was frugal at the right times and was thus able to live as she pleased.

Aya led me up the elevator.  Despite my trying to convince myself it was irrational, I became a bit nervous.  I didn't let Aya know, though, and I acted cool and collected.

"Miki," Aya said in a quiet voice as we got out of the elevator.

"Yeah?" I asked a little too quickly.

"Breathe."

I was going to protest that I wasn't nervous, but I changed my mind.  She could read my body language a little better than I'd thought.  I gave her a small smile.

"Have you told her anything yet?  Like, uh..."

Aya shook her head, her eyes twinkling.

"Shiba-chan's not the type that needs to be told things.  If she hasn't figured it out already, she'll be able to tell after spending lunch with us."

My eyes widened.

"Is she that smart?"

"Well, we'll see if history repeats itself," she mumbled.

I didn't get it, but I smiled again before we arrived at the door.  Aya reached out and rang the doorbell.  A few moments later, the door opened, and I was brought face to face with the other best friend.

Shibata was already smiling, knowing who she'd find behind the door.  She and Aya shared a familiar look, and then she looked over at me.

Everything seemed to stop around us as she held my gaze.  Her face dipped into the strangest expression I'd ever seen on someone being introduced to me, and while I'm sure time did not slow down or come to a complete stop, I felt that one second stretch out uncomfortably long.

She hated me.  I could tell right away.  Nobody would look at their best friend's friend with that expression.  She was undoubtedly thinking "How can Aya like this insipid-looking character?"

It was the worst thing that could happen.

"Hi," she said to me, still staring.

"Hi," I replied coolly, putting on my face of indifference.

If she didn't like me, I wasn't going to make a big deal of it.

She seemed to recover her senses, and she smiled a smile a person could never smile at someone he or she hated.  Had I been wrong about her first impression of me?

"Come in.  Make yourselves at home."

She drew the door open wider and stepped back, letting us come in.  Aya and I removed our shoes.

"Shiba-chan, Miki-chan.  Miki-chan, Shiba-chan," Aya said as a casual introduction.

"It's nice to finally meet you," Shibata said to me, all traces of earlier discomfort gone.

"Nice to meet you, too.  Thanks for having me over," I replied, turning the charm on just a little.

There was no use holding a grudge.  It might have all been in my imagination.

We launched into small talk, Shibata asking me what I did and what I had studied.  I, in turn, found out a little more about her and her plans to go to university to study anthropology.

Lunch time approached and Shibata addressed us.

"I thought we could go to that nice French café just down the street for lunch since I haven't gone grocery shopping yet."

We said it sounded like a nice idea, but for a second, I wondered if this "nice" café would be more Aya's style of place.  Tasty, but monumentally expensive.  I would have to suck it up and go with it.

"Next time I'll get Miki-chan to cook for you.  This girl is quite skilled in the kitchen," Aya said suddenly, presenting me with a gesture of the hand.

I frowned and looked up.

"Not really that skilled," I said.  "I do simple stuff only."

"No, I've heard from Aya-chan that you're quite a talented chef," Shibata jumped in.  "I'd be honoured to try your dishes one day."

"Well, maybe if we all work together we can make something good," I mumbled, remembering cooking with Baachan and Aya.

I excused myself to use the washroom before we left.  When I was going to enter the living room again, I saw Aya and Shibata standing in a corner and speaking in hushed voices.  I hesitated for a moment, unintentionally listening in on them.  I couldn't hear everything they were saying.  Only snippets of conversation.

"Hokkaido... Italy..." I heard Aya say.

"This is insane," Shibata muttered

"I know, but... found... in a restaurant of all..."

"... and she seems so... met?"

I wondered what they were talking about.  Me, no doubt.

I walked into the living room, and they didn't stop but transitioned smoothly into some conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with what they had been talking about.  It was a valiant effort, and it would have worked had I not heard what I had.  I decided to play the fool, however, to save them embarrassment.  I didn't want to cause a scene.

My chance came when Shibata went to her room to fetch her purse.  I went up to Aya and stood close to her.

"What were you guys talking about?" I asked softly.

She did such a good job of playing dumb that it almost fooled me.  She looked at me as if to say "Huh?  When?"  I didn't fall into the trap.

"You can tell me anything, you know," I reminded her.

She smiled.

"Don't worry, Miki.  Just Shiba-chan's private issues."

I had to wonder.

Shibata came back, and we pulled apart so we could go and put our shoes on.

We had a pleasant time at the French café.  It was reasonably priced, and I wished Aya had a taste for slightly cheaper places like it.

Shibata was as perfect as Aya advertised her to be.  I really liked her and felt like I'd known her for years.  But the memory of the initial moment when we met lingered in my mind like a bad aftertaste.  Also, the secret conversation they'd been having didn't sound like it had to do with Shiba-chan's private issues.  It sounded like it had been about me.  I cared what Aya was saying about me to her friends.  It was very important.

Pfft.  As if I need her approval or anything, I thought.

But no.  Maybe I did need her approval.

Aya and I got home around three o'clock after parting with Shibata.  We sat around for ten minutes in silence, wondering what to do in our spare time.

"It's been so long since we've both had an afternoon off together," Aya said, breaking the silence.  "Have we lost our creativity?  What should we do?"

Part of my brain was focused on trying to think up something to do, but the other part was working on how to approach Aya with my questions.  Questions about what she and Shibata had been talking about.  It had to do with me.  I needed to know.

"I have a question," I started.

"What is it?"

"It's about Shiba-chan."

She nodded for me to go on.  Looking at her face that was so willing to answer anything, no clue what I was going to ask her, I lost my nerve.

"What did she say was her favourite food?"

Of all the things I could have asked about Shibata, I had to ask something trivial like that.

"Oh, for when we have her over?" Aya asked with a smile.

I nodded enthusiastically.  My question wasn't so random after all.  Aya turned thoughtful and launched into a rant about Shibata's likes and dislikes as I listened with feigned interest.  My brain was still working on how to approach my question.

We spent the rest of the day watching some movies together, and I forgot about my question because I had to keep Aya from bawling her eyes out at the end of the first movie after the main character died and his wife was left alone to raise her son.  She sniffled a bit, and so I tried to brighten the atmosphere with silly conversation.  It worked, and full out hysterics were avoided.  I made sure we watched a comedy next.

After dinner, bath, and more television, we went to bed.  Hiroshi had always told me I had very bad timing.  I got talkative at the most inopportune times, and it frustrated him, especially when we were doing things that didn't require much talking.  Things that, in fact, required no talking at all.  Shibata and Aya's conversation started playing in my mind again, and I mumbled something aloud.

"Huh?" Aya asked, pulling back from me.

"Shiba-chan," I repeated.

She frowned.

"You realise that I'm Aya, right?"

I shook my head.

"I know that.  I just want to ask you something."

"Er, okay..." Aya said with a confused look.  "What is it about Shiba-chan that you want to know?"

She seemed a bit put off by this interruption.  I couldn't really blame her, but once I had something on my mind, I needed to deal with it.

"Your conversation today," I said weakly.

Aya sighed and rolled onto her back, looking at the ceiling.  In the faint light, I could see her eyes glimmering as usual, her smooth skin looking even smoother, if such a thing was possible.

"What about our conversation?" she asked.

"I got the feeling that she didn't like me much.  When I first met her, she looked a little... I don't know how to put it.  Unhappy?  Uncomfortable?  So I was wondering what you were talking about while I was in the washroom."

I spoke tentatively.  I didn't want to force Aya into things.  I simply wanted her to see the reason in telling me.

"No, not at all," Aya said firmly.  "She doesn't dislike you.  She likes you for sure."

"Really?"

"Really."

I waited for her to go on, but she had nothing more to say.  I lay there, unmoving, thinking it through until she made the first move and rolled onto her side to look down at me.

"Are you worried that if Shiba-chan doesn't like you, you and I won't be able to hang out anymore?"

It sounded so infantile when she put it that way.  Like we were back in elementary school.  I flushed under the safe cover of darkness.  Part of it was true.  While I didn't think Shibata disliking me would lead to me and Aya being separated, I did think that it could make waters unnecessarily stormy.

"I want to get along with her so that we can do things together.  I want all your friends to like me," I admitted.

She rubbed my tummy and tickled me.

"She likes you.  Don't worry.  I know you two will get along famously once you have the chance to hang out some more."

Her words comforted me and soothed the worry in my mind.

"Thanks, Aya-chan."

She smiled and didn't reply.  Instead, she continued what I'd interrupted.

At the back of mind, however, lingered a thought.  Just for ten seconds until I was distracted from such worldly troubles.  But ten seconds was long enough for my thought to file away its complaint for later review.

She never answered my question about their conversation.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Nana Oosaki on July 18, 2007, 03:51:07 PM
Shibata and Aya where talking about the other Miki, right?. I wonder what is going to think Miki when she finds out...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 19, 2007, 12:52:28 AM
Quote
The next morning I woke up alone to an empty home.  It was six-fifty-nine, one minute before my cell phone alarm would go off.  I stopped it before it could start.  I sighed and got up, walking around the apartment and seeing that Aya was already gone for the day.  I half-heartedly got ready for work.

I missed her.  I was growing far too attached.  Since when did I miss someone so much?  I didn't need to be around people every minute of the day.  Yet with Aya, it felt necessary to talk at least just a little every day.  Every morning.  Every evening.
Rabu-rabu desu! :heart:


Quote
The weekend came, and we both had Saturday and Sunday off, a rare treat on both sides.  On Saturday morning, the alarm clock started ringing, and instead of slapping my hand down on it, I slapped Aya's shoulder.

"You set the alarm, you dummy.  Why?" I grumbled.
You'd think that since they both knew that they'd both have the whole weekend off that they'd enjoy the extra sleep-time. :dunno:


Quote
"You'd better get up.  I made plans for us.  Kind of a surprise until now."

"What plans?" I asked, growing a little interested.

"It's still a surprise," she said sneakily.
Plans? Aya made plans? :O


Quote
I growled and rolled onto my back, pushing Aya off of my legs and making her decide to lie back down.

"Don't be like that.  Tell me.  Otherwise I won't get up."

She sighed dramatically.

"Fine.  We're going over to Shiba-chan's for lunch.  I thought I'd better not jinx it.  But oh well.  What are the chances of you getting called in for yet another emergency shift?"

I opened my mouth to express my happiness about finally getting to meet Shibata when my phone rang.

Aya just had to open her big mouth!
Aw crap...(http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/J-F-C/doh.gif)


Quote
I grabbed my phone.  The number confirmed my fear.  It was 7-Eleven.

...

"Good morning, Fujimocchan!" came the energetic greeting, and I sighed in partial relief that it wasn't Fukuda.

"Kuni-chan.  Why are you calling me?"

"Oh, did I wake you up?" she asked innocently.

"What do you think?" I snorted.

"Aw, sorry.  I just wanted to- hey, is Aya-chan there with you?"

Ugg.

My eyebrows twitched.

"Do you want to talk to her or me?" I asked, avoiding the question.

"Oh, so she is?"

"Kuni-chan, what do you want?"

"Ooohh, she is," she sang.

If she had been in front of me, I would have strangled her.

"Tell her I'm sorry if I woke her up, too.  Or maybe you guys were already awake.  Maybe I'm interrupting a moment or-"
Well, looks like Kuniko's dealing with the whole "Miki and Aya are a couple" thing pretty well.  I mean, it's first thing in the morning (well, for Miki it is) and already Kuniko's teasing her about it! She's pretty awesome, isn't she? :D


Quote
"What are you calling about?" I asked quietly and politely.

"Oh, well, I have a few minutes before my shift starts.  I was wondering if you were free next Tuesday.  Koda's got another place lined up for us."
Well, looks like Aya's surprise plans for today won't be ruined after all. (http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/J-F-C/eusa_dance.gif)


Quote
"With Koda-kun?"

Aya scrunched her nose up when I said his name, and I laughed silently, sticking my face in hers to dare her to protest.

"With Koda-kun."

"And where is this super sexy club?" I asked, and Aya pushed me down onto the bed, making me yelp out a laugh.

"Are you okay?" Kuniko asked.

I stifled my laughter as an errant Aya crawled up to sit on me.

"Yeah, I'm fine.  Where's the club?"

"Hey Koda-kun!" Kuniko yelled off the phone, and I deduced from this move that she and Koda were working the shift together.

While Kuniko confirmed the location, I looked up at Aya, who had a malicious smile on her face.
Oh, looks like Aya's being naughty. Shame, shame Aya. You know it's not nice to try and distract Miki when she's on the phone.

Quote
"Stop it," I mouthed at her, but she pretended not to notice as she began to play with the bottom of my shirt.

...

"Hey!  Your hands are cold!"

Aya had stuck her hands under my shirt.

"Umm..." Kuniko drawled.  "How about I leave you two alone now?"
:mon huh:

...


Ok, forget what I said earlier. BE NAUGHTY AYA! BE VERY, VERY NAUGHTY!!!  :twisted:  O0  :pimp:



Quote
"No, it's fine," I growled, using my free hand to grab Aya's wrists and push her hands away from me.  "She's asleep and doesn't know what she's doing."
Aya doing stuff in her sleep without knowing it? Miki's one to talk. :lol:



Quote
"I am not asleep," Aya piped up loudly, grabbing the phone from me.  "Hi, Kuni-chan.  It's me," she said sweetly, settling down beside me on her stomach as if preparing for a long session of girl talk.

I heard Kuniko's voice come from the phone, mirroring Aya's pleasant tone.  I crossed my arms and let out an irritated huff.  Without looking, Aya put her hand on mine.

"Yeah, she's getting all grumpy now that we're talking."

I flicked the palm of her hand with my finger, making her wince and pull her hand away.  I smiled smugly as she listened to Kuniko.

"Got it.  Oh, and if you want to come over some time next week, I have lots of open evenings.  Let me know when you're free.  Do you have my number and e-mail address?"

I felt dread as I could decipher Kuniko's answer on the phone.  "No," I heard her say.

"When we're done here, I'll e-mail you my information.  Miki-chan's too jealous to willingly give it out."
Well duh, Miki wants to keep Aya all to herself. :love:

Aya must really, REALLY have a good feeling about Kuniko (the fact that they clicked so well on their first meeting and that they both love teasing Miki certainly helps). After all, she's already giving her her contact information even though they've only actually met that one time.  She also shows that she trusts Miki's judgement of Kuniko as a friend. After all, Miki does "go on and on" about how great Kuniko is with Aya. So if she's thinking that if Miki trusts her, then so can she.


Quote
"Now, shall we go and meet Shiba-chan?" she asked.

...

"Does Shiba-chan like to tease people?" I asked.

"Don't be silly," she scoffed.  "Shiba-chan is far too mature for that kind of thing."
Shiba-chan has always been the sensible one, hasn't she?  :)


Quote
Aya led me up the elevator.  Despite my trying to convince myself it was irrational, I became a bit nervous.  I didn't let Aya know, though, and I acted cool and collected.

"Miki," Aya said in a quiet voice as we got out of the elevator.

"Yeah?" I asked a little too quickly.

"Breathe."

I was going to protest that I wasn't nervous, but I changed my mind.  She could read my body language a little better than I'd thought.  I gave her a small smile.
Wow, you'd think that it's a "meet the parents for the first time" situation for Miki. :lol:



Quote
Shibata was already smiling, knowing who she'd find behind the door.  She and Aya shared a familiar look, and then she looked over at me.

Everything seemed to stop around us as she held my gaze.  Her face dipped into the strangest expression I'd ever seen on someone being introduced to me, and while I'm sure time did not slow down or come to a complete stop, I felt that one second stretch out uncomfortably long.

She hated me.  I could tell right away.  Nobody would look at their best friend's friend with that expression.  She was undoubtedly thinking "How can Aya like this insipid-looking character?"

It was the worst thing that could happen.
Oh come on, Miki's just overreacting her because of her nerves, right? They've only JUST met after all.

Wait a sec, dude, you're not gonna do what I think you might do, are you? You're not gonna make it so that Miki's right about Shiba-chan not liking her, right? :mon cry:


Quote
"Next time I'll get Miki-chan to cook for you.  This girl is quite skilled in the kitchen," Aya said suddenly, presenting me with a gesture of the hand.

I frowned and looked up.

"Not really that skilled," I said.  "I do simple stuff only."

"No, I've heard from Aya-chan that you're quite a talented chef," Shibata jumped in.  "I'd be honoured to try your dishes one day."

"Well, maybe if we all work together we can make something good," I mumbled, remembering cooking with Baachan and Aya.
Well, if there IS a little tension between Shiba-chan and Miki, it'll likely go away once they've all had a chance to do something together like this. It's the whole "bonding" thing.   :k-great:  And the whole "making something good" bit could also mean a good friendship as well as good food. :yep:


Quote
I excused myself to use the washroom before we left.  When I was going to enter the living room again, I saw Aya and Shibata standing in a corner and speaking in hushed voices.  I hesitated for a moment, unintentionally listening in on them.  I couldn't hear everything they were saying.  Only snippets of conversation.

"Hokkaido... Italy..." I heard Aya say.

"This is insane," Shibata muttered

"I know, but... found... in a restaurant of all..."

"... and she seems so... met?"

I wondered what they were talking about.  Me, no doubt.
They probably are talking about how Aya ditched her Italy thing to go to Hokkaido and find Miki, which Shiba-chan still probably doesn't understand fully.  Shiba-chan is just being herself and being that "little voice" that keeps Aya grounded and that gives her that "other viewpoint" that she needs. It's understandable that Shiba-chan's worried that Aya's rushing into things too fast with something as "insane" as this thing with Miki, but that's part of what makes her such a good friend, and Aya knows it. She's just asking Aya "Are you sure about this?"

And yeah, Aya's sure.


Quote
After dinner, bath, and more television, we went to bed.  Hiroshi had always told me I had very bad timing.  I got talkative at the most inopportune times, and it frustrated him, especially when we were doing things that didn't require much talking.  Things that, in fact, required no talking at all.  Shibata and Aya's conversation started playing in my mind again, and I mumbled something aloud.

"Huh?" Aya asked, pulling back from me.

"Shiba-chan," I repeated.

She frowned.

"You realise that I'm Aya, right?"
Whoa, did Miki just interrupt "quality-time" with Aya? :o  This thing with Shiba-chan must REALLY be weighing heavily on her mind if it can distract her from THAT.  :k-crazy:


Quote
I just want to ask you something."

"Er, okay..." Aya said with a confused look.  "What is it about Shiba-chan that you want to know?"

...

"I got the feeling that she didn't like me much.  When I first met her, she looked a little... I don't know how to put it.  Unhappy?  Uncomfortable?  So I was wondering what you were talking about while I was in the washroom."

...

"Are you worried that if Shiba-chan doesn't like you, you and I won't be able to hang out anymore?"

It sounded so infantile when she put it that way.  Like we were back in elementary school.  I flushed under the safe cover of darkness.  Part of it was true.  While I didn't think Shibata disliking me would lead to me and Aya being separated, I did think that it could make waters unnecessarily stormy.

"I want to get along with her so that we can do things together.  I want all your friends to like me," I admitted.
This is just so sweet. The circumstances under which Miki and Aya's relationship came to be wasn't exactly something you'd expect, and Miki realizes that it could put some people off and/or make things unnecessarily awkward.  If Shiba-chan is such a good friend to Aya, then obviously she must be a good person, and it's sweet how Miki wants them to get along.   :oops:

At the same time it's troubling that she's thinking that things with Shiba-chan might end up NOT go so well.  :(


Quote
At the back of mine, however, lingered a thought. 

...

She never answered my question about their conversation.
Now while us readers know why Aya's being somewhat evasive about this, we need to remember that this is something that's obviously something that she can't just up and tell Miki about. How Aya deals with this (whether she tells Miki or not, or if she comes up with something else to ease Miki's apprehensions) will be interesting to see.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 19, 2007, 11:56:26 AM
They probably are talking about how Aya ditched her Italy thing to go to Hokkaido and find Miki, which Shiba-chan still probably doesn't understand fully.  Shiba-chan is just being herself and being that "little voice" that keeps Aya grounded and that gives her that "other viewpoint" that she needs. It's understandable that Shiba-chan's worried that Aya's rushing into things too fast with something as "insane" as this thing with Miki, but that's part of what makes her such a good friend, and Aya knows it. She's just asking Aya "Are you sure about this?"

And yeah, Aya's sure.

I thought that maybe Shiba-chan recognized Miki somehow remembering about the Miki in the other reality. That would explain why she gave her an awkward look when she first saw her.
Anyways, is the problem in this story going to be that first Aya will hide the truth from Miki, Miki will get suspicious about it, then after argueing couse Miki know's Aya's hiding something Aya will tell her the truth and Miki will think she's crazy?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: nkca_ on July 20, 2007, 10:40:42 PM
it's getting more interesting i wonder what is Miki going to do when she realizes that this other Miki Aya first liked was kind of an opposite to her, because after all they are kind of different people because their experiences in life haven't been the same they're constructed in a different way but they have the same essence nonetheless
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 21, 2007, 10:13:14 AM
Wow, you'd think that it's a "meet the parents for the first time" situation for Miki. :lol:
Haha, yeah.  Actually, that's a good way of putting it.  To Miki, Shiba-chan is like part of Aya's family.  Miki may say she doesn't care what other people think about her, but we can all see that she really cares what both Aya and Aya's closest friend think.

Some questions will be answered in the next chapter.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 21, 2007, 10:27:30 AM
Chapter 18

I had always loved Sunday mornings as a child.  Sunday mornings were my sleep in days.  My only sleep in days.  With school and club activities on all other days, I got a daily average of four to five hours of sleep.  But on Sundays, I made up for it.

This Sunday was no different.  I'd gotten used to the crappy curtains, and the light no longer bothered me (if it ever did, I just buried my face in my pillow (or sometimes Aya's neck, which was fun)), so I was able to enjoy a nice and long morning snooze.  This Sunday, I woke up a few times because Aya was tossing restlessly in her sleep.  When that happened, I put an arm over her like a metal bar and stopped her from moving around too much, drifting back into sleep easily.  At eleven o'clock, I coughed myself awake.  Something tickled the back of my throat, and I was jolted into the land of the conscious.  I opened my eyes, a few tears having gathered around them during my convulsions, and I stretched my arms above my head, only to be greeted by a soft "good morning" from beside me.

Aya was on her side, her elbow on her pillow and her head propped up on her hand.  She looked wide awake.  She must have been waiting patiently for me to wake up.  How kind!

"Morning," I replied cheerfully.

"Someone's unusually happy," Aya laughed.

I cocked my head to the side in thought.  Was I being unusually happy?  I guess Sunday morning sleep ins made me feel good.  Life in Tokyo was going so well.  I had a whole slew of friends, and I seemed to meet more every day.  Also, waking up beside a devil in disguise wasn't too bad either.  I grinned and said nothing in reply.

We lazed around for a good ten minutes, mostly keeping quiet but occasionally spouting out ideas about what to do in the afternoon.

"Aya," I whined.

"Hmm?"

"All our ideas sound like stupid date ideas.  I don't want to go on a date with you."

"Um, okay.  Sorry?" Aya said, sounding offended.

"Well, no, I didn't mean it in a bad way.  Just... aren't we cooler?"

"What do you want to do, then?" she challenged.

I tried to think of something good.  Something unique.  Something like what we did in Hokkaido with the snow and the hills.  I could think of nothing in Tokyo.

"I want to go play on a snowy mountain," I mumbled.

I thought I'd get teased, but instead, I got hugged.

"Do you miss your home?" she asked into my ear.

The truth was that I didn't miss Takikawa that much.  I loved the abundant nature there, but in Tokyo there were far more things to do and ways to keep busy.  I just missed the special kind of bond you could build when it was just you and another person all alone out in the middle of nowhere.  You couldn't get that in the capital city.  There was no "alone" outside of the house.

"No," I told her.  "But I miss the sheep!"

"More than your parents?"

"My what?"

Aya laughed, and stopped quizzing me.

"Can we go somewhere today?  Somewhere not so busy?" I asked, wondering if Aya knew of a place nearby.

She thought for a moment.

"I don't really hang out in the outskirts... but we could pick a train at random, ride it, and get off at the smallest station," she suggested.

I liked that idea! 

And so we decided to do that.  We got ready and walked over to the train station.  The sky was grey, soft rain clouds starting to form over the city.  I shivered a bit.

"Are you okay?" Aya asked.

I nodded, sticking my chin further into my jacket.

"I just get all these uncontrollable shivers when I'm around you," I replied jokingly, and she groaned.

Yes, it was a lame thing to say, but I was a lame person around Aya.

We took the train to Shinjuku station and then chose a number at random.  The platform that shared the chosen number was the platform we'd wait on for the next train.

We ended up going to Saitama.  I had been hoping we'd go anywhere but there, but as long as we were together, it didn't much matter where we went.  Aya pulled us off at one of the less crowded stations, and we wandered up to the surface. 

It was a nondescript city.  It looked the same as all the others.  And it was still cold.  No rain fell, but the sky looked a shade darker than it had when we'd first left.

We wandered around, had coffee and a snack at a small café, and tried to find out what the local thing of interest was.  Everyone we asked said there was nothing interesting in this town.  They all looked tired and worn out, even the younger ones.  They all wanted to leave their boring, ultimately unimportant town.  I knew the feeling and sympathised with them.

The most interesting part of the day came when it started to snow.  Not rain.  Snow.  And it snowed a lot.  It started so subtly that it didn't even register in our minds that the white fluff falling from the sky was precipitation. 

I smiled happily as we walked to the station to go back home.  Even if we only got a thin layer that would melt the next day, it was enough to see everything covered in whiteness for an evening.

We hopped on the train and fell asleep on the ride home, arriving at the station in the late afternoon.  When we stepped out of the train, we received a surprise.  It hadn't stopped snowing.  It had continued as we had slept, and there was definitely more than a thin layer of the powder on the ground.  I shivered as the snow went down my neck, reminding myself to bring a scarf if we went out later that night.

We got back to her apartment and had to shake the snow off our jackets and clothes.

"I can't believe it.  It hasn't snowed like this here in years," Aya mumbled as she hung her jacket up.

"I don't mind!" I laughed.  "I wonder how long it'll keep up, though."

We turned on the heater, made tea, and then sat at the table.  Half an hour of meaningless chatter later, Aya stretched her arms and then rubbed her stomach.

"I'm hungry," she declared.

"What should we prepare?" I asked.

She seemed to think a little too hard about the question, and I wanted to tell her to not worry too much.  She went over to the kitchen and looked through the refrigerator and cupboards.

"Hey, Miki-chan," she said in a sweet voice, calling me over.

"Mmhmm?"

I went to join her in the kitchen.

"Would you mind doing me a big favour?"

I looked at her suspiciously, but I couldn't deny Aya a favour.

"What?"

"Could you go and pick some things up at the grocery store?"

Boring.  Why couldn't we go together?

Regardless, I nodded.

"I need to review a script for tomorrow," she explained apologetically, "and I don't want to bore you and do it while you're around.  That way we can both have something to do for the next while and we can spend the rest of the evening together."

I didn't care if she went off and had to memorise a script while I sat around doing something else, but I guess if she wanted to save on time, it would help her out a lot if I did the shopping.

"Okay!" I said with a perky smile.

She made a list of things she needed, and I put my shoes on, taking care to put on my scarf to prevent from being snowed out of my jacket.  She saw me to the door, and then I was off to go shopping.

Some of the things on her list seemed so arbitrarily placed that I wondered if she'd actually meant to write them down.  I ran around the store, however, and got everything she needed, plus some additional things I thought we could use.  I paid, bagged my things, and scurried out in record time.

The snow was coming down hard and fast.  The flakes were giant, and as I walked, I kicked up piles of the stuff up in front of me.  It got into my shoes, and I cursed myself for not bringing warmer shoes to Tokyo.  I didn't think it would snow this much down here.

I made it back home safely, and I walked in quietly as to not disturb Aya.  I put the bag of groceries down on the kitchen floor and looked for the missing girl so that we could put the groceries away together.  She wasn't in the living room, so I went to her bedroom.  The door was open halfway, and I was about to call out to her and slide the door the rest of the way open when I heard something that made my heart stop.

"No, I sent her out to buy a long list of groceries.  I had to talk to you.  Your line's been busy till now."

She sent me out?  Like a mother would a child?  A master a servant?  Who was she talking to?  Why did she feel such an urge to talk to him or her without me around?  Was it what it sounded like?

I did something I wasn't proud of, but that was necessary.  I refrained from calling out to her and stood by the door listening.  She obviously hadn't heard me come in, so here were her real thoughts.

"It's just... it's weird what happened yesterday.  But you're not crazy.  I'm not crazy."

Silence.

I got the impression that she was talking to Shibata.  There was nobody else we had seen the previous day.

"Ah, yeah.  I thought you'd figure it out."

Pause.

"Is that- is that okay?  What do you think?  I mean, it's kind of..."

Shibata must have figured things out just as Aya had predicted.

Aya breathed out a sigh of relief.

"I really do.  She's... I don't know.  Something else.  Special.  To me, at least.  I can't even explain all the years of history..."

For one brief moment, I felt like laughing.  Just like Aya to overdramatically jazz things up.  More like months of history.  Not years.

"Listen, just don't mention that, okay?  I don't think I have a good way of telling her yet."

My ears picked that up nice and clearly.

Tell me what?  Did Aya have some sort of deep, dark secret that I wasn't supposed to know?  Something that she thought might make me hate her?  But there was nothing that I thought could make me feel that way about her...

"She won't understand."

Understand what?

"No, I can't."

Can't what?

"You have one now?  Okay.  I'll call you later.  Tomorrow.  From work."

And before I knew it, the conversation was over and Aya was walking to the door.  I panicked and turned around to run, but then thought it would look suspicious and turned right back around.  Right smack into Aya.

She looked at me with a startled expression, and I tried my best to make it look like I'd just walked in.

"Hi!" I said in a voice that was a decibel too loud.  "I'm back."

I could read the fright in her eyes.  She was scared that I'd overheard her and that I'd be curious.

And you know what?  I wasn't going to pretend.  I was curious.  I was more than curious.  I was a little upset.  Aya was finding excuses to send me out of the apartment while she had secret phone conversations about me.  If she didn't want me around, she should have told me and I would have moved out.  If living with me was too much to handle, I could understand that.  But being so secretive and telling other people about it rather than me hurt.

"Hi," she greeted me nervously.

I dropped the fake cheerful look and replaced it with a serious one.

"Sorry, Aya-chan, but what's going on?  I kind of heard some of that.  If there's something you need to tell me, or if you want me out of your house, I'll leave.  But I have to hear it from you."

Her faced darkened slightly.  Was she angry at me for having listened to her conversation?  Not my most shining moment, I'd admit.

"Miki, honestly, there's nothing you have to worry about.  I definitely don't want you to move out."

I crossed my arms, refusing to take that excuse.  She was avoiding the question again.

"That was Shiba-chan, wasn't it?"

She made no sound to indicate I was wrong.

"What is it with you two?  What did you tell her about me?  What's this thing you have to say to me?"

My questions sounded like machine gun fire.  She let me ask them and then took me by the arm, leading me to the couch.  She pointed to it.

"Sit," she commanded.

For some reason, I felt compelled to follow her instructions.  I felt like I was about to get some sort of answer out of her.  I sat down and waited.  She stood a few metres away and in front of me.

And then she began to speak.  At first I thought she was reminiscing about how we met, which threw me off guard and made me feel warm inside, but her words took another path, and I listened in disbelief as she told me things I could never have imagined.

"Something strange happened a few months ago."

She paused.  What an enigmatic statement.  I wondered what sort of story she was going to tell me.  She looked serious, so I, too, kept a serious expression on my face.

"At the end of October, as you know, I was supposed to fly out to Italy and start some special training, but I bailed out of the project.  I told you the reason I did that was because I couldn't stand the thought of being away for three months and that I wanted more control and a bit of a rest.  That's all true, but I didn't tell you the main reason."

The main reason? I thought curiously.

"The main reason I didn't go was because of you."

I was confused.  Now there was a paradox.

"But Aya, you didn't even know me yet," I laughed lightly.

She didn't laugh along.

"But I did.  Up until the morning of the twenty-sixth of October, a girl named Fujimoto Miki existed in my life.  Years ago, she came to Tokyo as the result of earning a soloist spot in Hello! Project after being denied entry into the group she originally auditioned for.  She - you - and I became best friends, and then some time later, even more.  Just like how we are now."

Her sentences came one after another, and I didn't know whether to giggle insanely at the joke or to tease her first and ask her if she was feeling all right.  Something, however, made me stay silent and let her continue without showing any reaction.

She talked a bit about my time as a soloist, about meeting her, about being put into Morning Musume, about graduating and then leaving the Project and then about becoming the star of the U-Con record label.

"While you were still in Momusu, You came to visit me at a concert.  It was my nineteenth birthday.  You came bearing gifts and confessions.  And from that moment on, we were inseparable.  Until, of course, the day I was supposed to leave for Italy."

I shook my head the slightest bit as I listened.

What the hell was she going on about??

"Huh?" I asked, begging for her to continue.

"That morning, I woke up beside you as usual.  We technically didn't live together, but we were usually together most days of the week."

I nodded once helplessly to acknowledge that I'd heard her.

"I fell back asleep, and when I woke up again, you were gone."

I scratched my ear nervously.

"Washroom?" I asked in a joking tone, although I didn't feel like laughing at all, for she looked far too serious.

"You completely disappeared from the world.  Everybody who had known you no longer knew who you were.  They'd never heard your name before.  All my pictures of you were replaced by different pictures.  In your place there were other friends of mine.  Even in the public eye, Shiba-chan became  my best friend, not you.  My past even changed without my knowing it.  I had done work with people when I'd really done that work with you.  Performances and films.  That sort of thing.  So that's why I didn't go to Italy.  Because in the space of about an hour, my world was not just turned upside down, but torn into pieces."

I stared at her.  She was serious.  Dead serious.  I felt a dull throbbing at the back of my head that I hadn't noticed before.

"I couldn't stand the thought of you having disappeared, so I tried every way to contact you, and when all those failed, I took a plane up to Hokkaido and found you.  It was by chance that I went to that restaurant, but it happened.  Even though you didn't really know who I was, I wanted to get to know you.  That's why I stayed up there for two months.  I tried to leave you because I knew that you had your own life and I was just intruding, but when you latched on to me and made me let you stay with me that night, I realised I could never leave you.  I was too selfish.  So I let you come down here with me, knowing that somehow you'd do well."

She stopped talking, and the first thing I thought was: I wonder if she rehearsed saying all that beforehand.

The second thing I thought was: How hard did she bang her head before I came back?

"Aya-chan..." I started, thinking over my words carefully through my growing headache.  "What the hell are you talking about?  Why are you making up weird stories?  I just wanted to know what you and Shiba-chan were talking about."

She seemed to wake up at the sound of my questions.

"The only person I've told this to is Shiba-chan.  She thought I was crazy at first, but once I went up to Hokkaido and found you, she didn't know what to believe.  What's more, when I took you to her place, the reason why she may have acted strangely at first was because she recognised you.  While you were in the washroom, she told me that she'd been overcome with a frightening feeling of familiarity when she saw your face.  She was trying to figure out why this was."

I drew in a shaky breath.  This was starting to get weird.  It wasn't just Aya now.  It was Shibata, too.  Were they trying to play some joke on me?  If I called Shibata, would she confirm this crazy story just so they could get their kicks?

No.  They wouldn't do that.  They would never go that far to tease me.  There was a boundary line between respect and disrespect that they would not cross

"And it's not just Shiba-chan.  You've been noticing it, haven't you, Miki?"

She pierced me with an all-knowing gaze, and I frowned.  Noticing what??

"People haven't been acting quite normal around you.  People stare at you in the streets.  Yes, you're beautiful, but it goes a bit deeper than that.  It's because they recognise you but can't quite place you.  It's like the memory has been buried so far back in their minds that they can't dig it out, only tug at a small corner of it.  People like Ohashi and Kuniko from U-Con hated you on sight because back in that other world, you were rivals.  They must have felt that when they met you.  Tsuyoshi felt the need to protect you at the club not because you were some defenceless girl about to get beaten up but because the kid worked for you as your secretary.  Even those boys staring at you when we went to the hot springs at the beginning of the year.  They were staring because they somehow knew you were as famous as I was, but couldn't quite remember how."

Too much information.  Too much information.  What did this all mean? 

Yes, I had felt strange vibes coming from many of the people I'd been meeting, but I had thought it was a Tokyo thing, not because of some ridiculous science fiction concept of multiples of the same people existing and dimension hopping and-

"Are you out of your mind?" I asked Aya calmly.

"I know it's hard to believe it, but please.  If you don't believe me, call up Shiba-chan and ask her.  Call up the number of people I phoned the day after you disappeared, asking them if they knew who Fujimoto Miki was.  Some of them are bound to remember me saying the name."

I sat, still as a stone statue.

Aya was talking crazy, but I believed her somehow.  She had no reason to lie to me.  No reason to make up ridiculous stories like this.  And the more I thought about it, the more I was remembering incidents where people had mistaken me for someone else or stared at me unabashedly on the streets.

"What, um..." I swallowed and tried to wet my throat.  "What's this other Miki like?"

Aya came a few steps forward and then manoeuvred herself to sit beside me.

"You and the other Miki are essentially the same person.  A few different habits and strengths since you were partially brought up in different environments.  She's just like you.  She looks exactly like you.  Talks just like you.  Sings like you."

I began to grow wary of this whole situation.  If Aya was telling the truth and she knew a superstar Miki, did that mean when she'd lost that superstar, she'd come up to find me to replace her?  Was I a replacement?  Was that why I was here with her now?  To provide her comfort by being someone that looked exactly like that someone in her memory?

She tried to put a hand on my leg, but I twitched away, pulling back from her.

"I know that you're probably weirded out-"

"Weirded out isn't even close to what I'm feeling right now," I said in a low voice, reigning my anger in and trying to stay calm.

"And I'm sorry that I didn't tell you the whole truth before, but you would have thought I was cra-"

"You are crazy," I stated, and she looked at me in surprise.

"I thought you trusted me," she said in a dejected voice.  "I thought it made sense to you."

"I don't mean about this 'other Miki' thing.  I don't even want to talk about that.  But... no matter who it was, how could you do this to me?  How could you use me like this?"

"Use you?"

Her face was twisted in a genuine expression of confusion, and I laughed darkly at it.

"To replace that other person," I clarified.

Her jaw dropped.

"I didn't replace anybody.  I just thought that you could come here and-"

"And what?  Take her place?  In most circles, that's commonly referred to as replacing," I bit back.

"But I thought you had the potential."

I let that word run through my head before replying.

Potential.

Potential.

"So let me get this straight.  The only reason you like me now is because in your other reality - or whatever - I was also a famous celebrity?  You brought me down here to mould me into that girl?  If I'd just been some regular girl off the street, you wouldn't have cared?"

This is not happening.  This is not happening.  This can't be happening...

"No, that's not it!" she cried out defensively.

"Whatever!" I yelled at her, sick of her excuses.  "Just shut up and leave me alone."

I stalked off to the bedroom and started to pack up my things.

"Where are you going?" she asked in an alarmed tone.

I didn't bother to organise anything properly, simply shoving it into the bag folded or unfolded.

"I'm getting the hell away from you."

She walked up to me and tried to touch me, but I shoved her hand away violently.

"All you've done is use me.  To make yourself feel good or powerful or... who the hell knows?  You're some sort of insane, perverted freak with serious issues," I spat at her.

I slung my bag over my shoulder, pushed past her, and went to put my shoes on.

"You can't leave, Miki.  It's dark already and there's a snowstorm," she insisted in a last, desperate attempt.

"I don't care about the dark or the snow.  Weren't you paying attention to me and our activities in Hokkaido?  Or were you too busy plotting how to get me in your bed and make me famous to notice we were hiking up mountains in fucking blizzards?!"

I yelled this out to her, yanked the door open, and pushed my way out.  Before the door closed, I reached into my pocket, grabbed the spare key that was there, and threw it on the floor of the entrance.  Without another word, I let go of the door and walked off to the stairs.  The door swung shut automatically, making a loud slamming sound as nobody tried to slow it down.

I raced down the stairs, too angry even to see straight.  I'd been living through some sort of lie for the past four months.  Aya had been lying to me since the first day she met me.  Now I had no place to stay.  I'd been close to saving enough money to start renting my own apartment, but I'd been so tempted to keep living with her that I'd been hoping she'd offer again. 

Plans had changed so suddenly.

I had to call someone, but I didn't know who.  The one person I was supposed to be able to trust implicitly had ended up being a liar.  I ran all the way down the stairs, not stopping for a breath until I was at the bottom.  After catching my breath, I forged my way out.

The wind almost blew me over, snow hitting my face as I walked through the storm towards the train station.  I was so cold.  I hadn't had time to bundle up properly, so I had no hat and no gloves, and my jacket wasn't even zipped up.  After ten minutes, I got to the station, my face wet with snow that had melted after hitting it.  I brushed as many snowflakes off of me as possible and then took out my phone, looking through my address book.

I didn't have that many people I could call in Tokyo.  Aya was out of the question since she was the person I was escaping from.  There was Kuniko, who was probably the person I could trust most at that moment, but she'd ask too many questions and I didn't want to talk about it.  There was the Koda group from 7-Eleven, but I wasn't particularly close to any of them.  Then there were my two bosses.  No freaking way.  And then Tsuyoshi.  I wanted to call him.

What am I thinking? I reprimanded myself.  He's a nineteen year old boy and he lives with his parents.  We have nothing in common.

Just a few hours ago, I'd been rejoicing over the amount of friends I'd made since moving to this new city.  Out in the cold darkness, I felt completely alone.  I had nobody I could turn to.  In the end, all I had was myself.  I could only rely on me.

But the amount of confidence in my own judgement that I'd just lost was staggering.  I had completely misjudged Aya and let myself be caught in her web of sweet words and mushy feelings, no clue as to what her true motives had been.  But even though now that I had a clearer picture of why she'd been so nice to me, I still couldn't get over her.  I felt like I'd been betrayed.  I was upset because I still liked her.  Quite a lot, in fact, and that was just wrong.  Nobody should like someone who had been revealed to be so twisted.  The spell should have been broken, but I still found myself wanting to close my eyes and forget everything she'd said in the last thirty minutes.

I wandered around the station for a few minutes, not going inside.  Where would I go?  There was nowhere in the city I knew better than here.  There were still a few hours until the station closed.  I had some time to think about my plan of action.  Afraid that Aya might come out searching for me, I walked fifteen minutes in the opposite direction of her apartment and found a family diner that was open until one in the morning.  I sat down in it and ordered the all-you-can-drink special, wishing it was alcohol, not tea and carbonated drinks.

It felt vaguely familiar to sit in a booth with my cold oolong tea.  The last time I'd sat alone at a family restaurant, I'd been in Takikawa, sulking over my break up with Hiroshi and my mistake of sleepwalking right into his bed.  Nakanoko-chan had happened upon me, though, and I'd felt better to at least have someone around who cared.  This time, there was nobody who would walk by to help me.  Nobody could understand the situation.  Nobody would believe it.  Not even I could believe it.

I shivered, wishing they'd turn up the heating a little, and I sat in silence, the people around me seeming to keep their voices hushed in deference to me and my suffering.  Growing frustrated with my own thoughts, I rummaged through my bag and brought out a book that I'd packed.  It was a paperback detective thriller that I'd bought with the money my mother had sent me for my birthday.  I'd read it once already, but it would do no harm to read it again.  To distract myself, I started from the first page and read my way through steadily.

The next time I looked up from it, it was ten minutes to one, and a waitress was hovering near my table as if urging me telepathically to leave so that she could clean up and leave on time from her shift.  Startled at the time, I made a quick trip to the washroom and then went to pay my bill.  I rushed over to the train station and was downcast to see that the trains had stopped.  Not that I had thought of a plan, but with the closing of the station, my options were severely limited, and I didn't like that feeling.  I sat outside the station, a few other unfortunate souls nearby.  They eventually got up and left.

It was freezing cold and still snowing.  My body didn't feel the cold anymore, though.  I was numb.  I had grown so used to it that I was actually sweating a little, my jacket still undone.  I hadn't even bothered to put on my hat and gloves even though they were sitting in my bag.

I sat on the cold, wet ground and thought for a long time.  I reviewed the past four months in detail.  I tried to analyse every moment I'd spent with that wretched girl.  The girl that had tricked me unfairly and displaced me from my home, making me think that I had a place where I belonged down here in this city.  The girl that had come between me and my potential fiancé.  The girl that had just... done everything to me.  Everything bad.  And everything good.

When I looked at my watch, it was two.  I took my phone out and flipped it open.  Aya had called me once and left no message.  She'd also e-mailed me asking where I was.  I ignored the message and put my phone away.  I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall.  It wasn't the safest place to be at night, but I had nowhere else to go.  I was homeless until the trains started up at some time around five. 

I should go back home.  Back to Takikawa, I thought over and over again.

As I grew sleepy, it struck me as odd that I would have to repeat that to myself.  As if I had to convince myself it's what I wanted.  Try as I might, though, I couldn't shake the feeling of dread that I got from the thought of returning to that town.  I shivered, but I didn't know whether it was from fear of returning to my hometown or from the snow creeping down my neck.

I fell asleep.

=====

(ChiruChaCha: one would think you're spying on me/my hard drive.)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 21, 2007, 12:04:34 PM
ooooooh shit!!! :cry:
Miki reacted too fast!! :bleed eyes:
Damn damn...
I want to know what happens neeeext!! :angry:
*will check this story every 10 minutes* lol
I've really got no clue what to say! I will just wait...and wait...and wait....
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 21, 2007, 01:51:29 PM
Uuh oh.  You might feel even more frustrated after this next chapter!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 21, 2007, 01:53:44 PM
Chapter 19

Fire.  I was engulfed in fire.  Flames blistering my skin, melting my bones, burning hideous memories into my mind.

And then ice.  Freezing the parts of my body that still existed.  Stopping my heart and my lungs and my kidneys and my liver.  Forcing my blood's temperature to sub-zero levels.  My veins and arteries bursting from the popsicles forming in them.

And fire again.  Raging fire was all I could see...

With a start, I woke up.  Or I did somewhat.  I opened my eyes enough to be blinded by sun shining off a thick layer of snow that rested on everything.  I was leaning against the wall, my bag beside me, it, too, covered in snow.  I tried to move but I was paralysed.  I grit my teeth at the pain that shot through my entire body as I forced myself to sit up straight.  My head was pounding with a headache that made black spots dance in front of my eyes.  I was breathing shallowly and I felt like I was going to pass out because it was so damned hot.

Someone turn off the heating, I thought.

Despite the heat, I shivered.  I opened my dry mouth and out slipped a moan of pain.

Where am I? my mind asked.

I blinked a few times, trying to focus on something other than the white of the snow and the black spots that still ran around before me.  I saw a street and some stores and some parked bicycles...

Station.  I'm at the station.  But how did I get here?

I managed to move a hand and brought it up to my face.  It was numb.  I rubbed my temples, trying to banish the headache from my skull, but it didn't work.  I almost started to cry, it hurt so much.

I felt a buzzing.  The buzzing made me feel sick.  My ears started to ring.

No, not my ears.  My phone.

My hand fumbled to pull it out of my bag and I hit "talk".

"Hello?" I rasped out.

No, that's a generous description of what I did.  I barely made a sound.

"Miki?  Is that you?"

Someone asked me.  Someone I knew.  Someone whose name I couldn't quite remember.

"Yes," I said, trying to push my voice out a little more.

"What's the matter?  Where are you?"

What was the matter with me?  I didn't know.  Was there something the matter?  There must have been.  I couldn't move, couldn't breathe properly, couldn't feel anything but pain...

I knew where I was, though.

"Station," I croaked.  "Snowy station."

And then I thought that hanging up seemed like a good idea, so I did so.  No reason.  Just because.

I slumped back against the wall and closed my eyes.  I felt the world spin, and I asked it to stop.  It didn't.

An unknown amount of time passed.  I heard a faint ringing accompanied by a buzzing sound, but I ignored it.  I fell into a black hole, sucked through a tube of nothingness.

The next thing I felt were hands grasping me by the armpits and hefting me up.  I opened my eyes a bit, but I was leaning over someone's shoulder.  I could see the white of the snow behind us.  I felt myself being put into something.  A car.  I knew it was a car because I felt an engine turning as it drove off.

Who is this? I wondered.

I kept my eyes closed.  The world spun less if I did.  My head hurt less if I did.  I travelled further down the black hole.

And then hands were pulling at me again, dragging me out of the car.  I went inside.  It was so dark.  So very dark.  No white snow.

"Are you okay?"

The distant voice sounded warped.  It came from so far away.

"Hnnn," I replied, trying to tell this person I had heard the question but that I couldn't form words.

I had to try harder.  I was alive.

"O...kay..." I managed to get out.

There were no more questions.  I felt grateful about that.  It hurt my head to think of answers.

My next memory was of being undressed.  I wanted to protest, but I couldn't form words.

After being undressed, I was being sprayed by water.  It burned my skin and I wanted to scream, but I still couldn't make a sound.  I opened my eyes and I could see someone in the shower with me, but everything was too hazy.  I felt hands on me.  But kind ones.  Cleaning me with soap and a cloth.  Washing my hair.  Rinsing all the soap off of me.

I fell over and arms caught me, pulling me back up and holding me in place.

And then I was being dried and dressed in warm clothes and put into a bed.  Once in bed, I felt so chilly that I thought I was going to freeze to death right there.  I shivered and opened my eyes.  A blob of flesh was looking down at me, speaking to me, saying something.  I couldn't understand it.

I felt a hand touch my forehead.

It must have been a doctor.  That was a doctor-ish thing to do.

I closed my eyes, falling back into a painful dream of fire and ice.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 21, 2007, 02:09:23 PM
EHHH?????!!!!!!
Who is it???? Aya? I hope so!!!!
Oh damn OTN1 you are making this so exciting!!!^^ :w00t:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 21, 2007, 06:31:47 PM
2 chapters eh? Guess I'd better get comfy. :)

Chapter 18
Quote
"I want to go play on a snowy mountain," I mumbled.

I thought I'd get teased, but instead, I got hugged.

"Do you miss your home?" she asked into my ear.
Well, even if she won't admit it, it's only natural that she get a bit homesick and miss doing some of the things that she used to be able to do.



Quote
We ended up going to Saitama.  I had been hoping we'd go anywhere but there, but as long as we were together, it didn't much matter where we went.  Aya pulled us off at one of the less crowded stations, and we wandered up to the surface.
I'd laugh if they ran into Yossi. :lol:


Quote
I made it back home safely, and I walked in quietly as to not disturb Aya.  I put the bag of groceries down on the kitchen floor and looked for the missing girl so that we could put the groceries away together.  She wasn't in the living room, so I went to her bedroom.  The door was open halfway, and I was about to call out to her and slide the door the rest of the way open when I heard something that made my heart stop.

"No, I sent her out to buy a long list of groceries.  I had to talk to you.  Your line's been busy till now."
Uh-oh. Who's Aya calling? Miki's mom? Shiba-chan?  :O



Quote
"It's just... it's weird what happened yesterday.  But you're not crazy.  I'm not crazy."

Silence.

I got the impression that she was talking to Shibata.  There was nobody else we had seen the previous day.

"Ah, yeah.  I thought you'd figure it out."
Shiba-chan it is then.  That girls one smart cookie, isn't she?


Quote
"I really do.  She's... I don't know.  Something else.  Special.  To me, at least.  I can't even explain all the years of history..."

For one brief moment, I felt like laughing.  Just like Aya to overdramatically jazz things up.  More like months of history.  Not years.

"Listen, just don't mention that, okay?  I don't think I have a good way of telling her yet."

...

"She won't understand."

Understand what?

"No, I can't."

Can't what?
That's right, only Shiba-chan knows about the "other" Miki and about how she and Aya were together and about why that was the reason Aya went to Takikawa in the first place...

...

Shit if Miki finds this out she's gonna think Aya's some whacked out, obsessive freak that's been stalking her or something. THAT, and the fact that it would really hurt her to find out that she's actually a "replacement" of sorts. Imagine if you were Miki and you found this out. You'd think that Aya didn't come and fall for YOU, she came because she fell for this OTHER you and YOU just happen to be the closest thing to it. Miki here has given EVERYTHING up to come to Tokyo and be with Aya; to find out that Aya doesn't love her...but rather loves this OTHER Miki..damn that's just so morbid/fucked up. :o


Quote
"Sorry, Aya-chan, but what's going on?  I kind of heard some of that.  If there's something you need to tell me, or if you want me out of your house, I'll leave.  But I have to hear it from you."
/me moves away from the fan and gets an umbrella.


Quote
*Aya tells Miki the story*
Ok...now she knows. Now what? :cry:


Quote
"Aya-chan..." I started, thinking over my words carefully through my growing headache.  "What the hell are you talking about?  Why are you making up weird stories?  I just wanted to know what you and Shiba-chan were talking about."
Admittedly, this story does sound a bit far-fetched. It's not surprising that Miki's a little hesitant to believe it.


Quote
"The only person I've told this to is Shiba-chan.  She thought I was crazy at first, but once I went up to Hokkaido and found you, she didn't know what to believe.  What's more, when I took you to her place, the reason why she may have acted strangely at first was because she recognised you.  While you were in the washroom, she told me that she'd been overcome with a frightening feeling of familiarity when she saw your face.  She was trying to figure out why this was."
Whoa, Shiba-chan recognized Miki??? :o 

Now we've moved from just weird to "Twilight Zone" weird.


Quote
"And it's not just Shiba-chan.  You've been noticing it, haven't you, Miki?"

She pierced me with an all-knowing gaze, and I frowned.  Noticing what??

"People haven't been acting quite normal around you.  People stare at you in the streets.  Yes, you're beautiful, but it goes a bit deeper than that.  It's because they recognise you but can't quite place you.  It's like the memory has been buried so far back in their minds that they can't dig it out, only tug at a small corner of it.  People like Ohashi and Kuniko from U-Con hated you on sight because back in that other world, you were rivals.  They must have felt that when they met you.  Tsuyoshi felt the need to protect you at the club not because you were some defenceless girl about to get beaten up but because the kid worked for you as your secretary.  Even those boys staring at you when we went to the hot springs at the beginning of the year.  They were staring because they somehow knew you were as famous as I was, but couldn't quite remember how."
Noiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. You've been very methodical about how you've laid this all out, haven't you? Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery nicely done. :yep:


Quote
"What, um..." I swallowed and tried to wet my throat.  "What's this other Miki like?"
This was something that Miki had to ask. She has to know if Aya is still clinging to the love she had for the other Miki, or if she, as she said, loves THIS Miki for who she truly is.


Quote
"You and the other Miki are essentially the same person.  A few different habits and strengths since you were partially brought up in different environments.  She's just like you.  She looks exactly like you.  Talks just like you.  Sings like you."

I began to grow wary of this whole situation.  If Aya was telling the truth and she knew a superstar Miki, did that mean when she'd lost that superstar, she'd come up to find me to replace her?  Was I a replacement?  Was that why I was here with her now?  To provide her comfort by being someone that looked exactly like that someone in her memory?
Shit, here we go...


Quote
"So let me get this straight.  The only reason you like me now is because in your other reality - or whatever - I was also a famous celebrity?  You brought me down here to mould me into that girl?  If I'd just been some regular girl off the street, you wouldn't have cared?"
Miki's offended here, and considering what she's just heard, it's not that surprising that she is. In some ways, she's perfectly justified in feeling this way.  In her eyes, everything that she thought was true about Aya and about what they had together has been shattered. Where she was once convinced that she did the right thing, now EVERYTHING and EVERYONE is in doubt.


Quote
I stalked off to the bedroom and started to pack up my things.

"Where are you going?" she asked in an alarmed tone.

I didn't bother to organise anything properly, simply shoving it into the bag folded or unfolded.

"I'm getting the hell away from you."

...

  Before the door closed, I reached into my pocket, grabbed the spare key that was there, and threw it on the floor of the entrance.  Without another word, I let go of the door and walked off to the stairs.
Fuck this is serious. Miki is BEYOND angry right now. She thinks that she's just been some...toy that Aya's been playing with over the last few months.  She's been humiliated.

I just hope Miki doesn't do something stupid at this point.  :gyaaah:


Quote
I should go back home.  Back to Takikawa, I thought over and over again.

As I grew sleepy, it struck me as odd that I would have to repeat that to myself.  As if I had to convince myself it's what I wanted.
If Miki needs to repeat this to herself, if she feels the need to convince herself that it's the right thing to do...then it's not the right thing to do.



Chapter 19
Quote
With a start, I woke up.  Or I did somewhat.  I opened my eyes enough to be blinded by sun shining off a thick layer of snow that rested on everything.  I was leaning against the wall, my bag beside me, it, too, covered in snow.  I tried to move but I was paralysed.  I grit my teeth at the pain that shot through my entire body as I forced myself to sit up straight.  My head was pounding with a headache that made black spots dance in front of my eyes.  I was breathing shallowly and I felt like I was going to pass out because it was so damned hot.
Shit, she might have hypothermia or even pneumonia from sleeping out in the snow.  :k-sad:


Quote
My ears started to ring.

No, not my ears.  My phone.

...

"Miki?  Is that you?"

...

"What's the matter?  Where are you?"

What was the matter with me?  I didn't know.  Was there something the matter?  There must have been.  I couldn't move, couldn't breathe properly, couldn't feel anything but pain...

I knew where I was, though.

"Station," I croaked.  "Snowy station."
But who's calling? Aya? Even though she's delirious right now, Miki would have recognized her voice, wouldn't she? :dunno:


Quote
The next thing I felt were hands grasping me by the armpits and hefting me up.  I opened my eyes a bit, but I was leaning over someone's shoulder.  I could see the white of the snow behind us.  I felt myself being put into something.  A car.  I knew it was a car because I felt an engine turning as it drove off.

Who is this? I wondered.
A car? I don't remember anything about Aya having a car or being able to drive here?


Quote
My next memory was of being undressed.  I wanted to protest, but I couldn't form words.
Well, it definitely won't be Tsuyoshi (unless he got his mom to take care of cleaning Miki up in the shower and putting her to bed).


Quote
Once in bed, I felt so chilly that I thought I was going to freeze to death right there.  I shivered and opened my eyes.  A blob of flesh was looking down at me, speaking to me, saying something.  I couldn't understand it.

I felt a hand touch my forehead.

It must have been a doctor.  That was a doctor-ish thing to do.

I closed my eyes, falling back into a painful dream of fire and ice.
Okay, right now I'm betting that it's Shiba-chan who has the car, and that she helped Aya find and get Miki back to the apartment.


...


...


...


...


...


>_> 

Although, considering all the twists you've given us amongst all of your stories so far, it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out that the mystery person was Hiroshi, who had finally come to terms with things and had decided to come to Tokyo to visit Miki, and that she's actually in his hotel room.  Among all of the characters that Miki has met/interacted with in this story so far, it's bound to be either Aya or Hiroshi who would take care of Miki this way (especially the bit about washing her in the shower). 

<_<
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 21, 2007, 08:08:49 PM
"Although, considering all the twists you've given us amongst all of your stories so far, it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out that the mystery person was Hiroshi, who had finally come to terms with things and had decided to come to Tokyo to visit Miki, and that she's actually in his hotel room.  Among all of the characters that Miki has met/interacted with in this story so far, it's bound to be either Aya or Hiroshi who would take care of Miki this way (especially the bit about washing her in the shower)."

@ JFC   Could be possible as well...but I hope not :(
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on July 21, 2007, 11:42:27 PM
i thought u were gonna kill Miki already  :banghead:

plz...just let them hav a happy ending once!
i getting really frustrated already...

But it´s a very great chap anyway  :P
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 22, 2007, 01:19:08 AM
Quote
...damn that's just so morbid/fucked up. :o
There's what people think of me as a writer in a nutshell!  Especially Kei-Br.  But I'm really not.

Quote
Noiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. You've been very methodical about how you've laid this all out, haven't you? Veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery nicely done. :yep:
Hahaha, thank you.  I tried.

I'm curious who everyone thinks this person is.  I guess I left it off a bit cliffhanger-y.  There are a few characters in the story that I think would/could do this for Miki.  Then there are some other options one wouldn't think of right away (hahaha, that kind of reminds me of when I wrote that phone conversation with Sayumi).
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 22, 2007, 02:15:34 AM
 :( :(I'm sad now...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 22, 2007, 03:35:58 AM
Quote
I guess I left it off a bit cliffhanger-y.
Just a bit? ;D


Quote
(hahaha, that kind of reminds me of when I wrote that phone conversation with Sayumi).
I remember how floored I was when you did that, even though it was in an "AWWWWWWWWWWWWW" kind of way after reading it. :)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Sevii on July 22, 2007, 09:28:36 AM
I.. I just can't keep quiet anymore!

I've been stalking your fics for a while now, and, I must say, no other fics floored me the way the last two chapters have. Seriously, I wish I could find a way to pick my jaw off the ground right now. This is a freaking roller coaster ride.

Well done though, well mapped out. But still, really, I'd like to be able to pick my jaw back up some time soon.


Now that you've mentioned it, I had naturally assumed that it would be Aya who picked Miki up. I mean, it was the only reasonable thing. Aya called, Miki told her she was at the station, it'd only make sense that it was Aya who picked her up.

Hmm.



And no, please, not Sayu, I don't think Miki could handle waking up to USA-CHAN PEACE! ^^V
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 22, 2007, 09:56:42 AM
As always, dont expect anything intellegent from me...

But.

Wow.

The chapter of Miki and Aya fighting was kinda ...painful? I hate it when people arent forgiven or are hot headed but it still didnt stop me from LOL'ing. I think it was when Miki called Aya crazy... I kind of expected you to have Aya fob Miki with more excuses and avoid the problem a little more so when you actually went through with it I was pretty astounded.

Seriously though, if someone told me I was a completely copy except from a different universe kinda thing, Id live.

The next chapter was pretty awesome. Kinda lonely but real. Its very much how someone feels when they are down and trying to forget. The whole sleeping in the snow .. well thats just damn crazy. (The phone convo was funny though). Cant wait to find out who picked her up. Im putting my money on Ochiai
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on July 22, 2007, 12:38:50 PM
(ChiruChaCha: one would think you're spying on me/my hard drive.)

Lol, that would kill all the fun. I'm sorry, I seriously didn't think I'd get it right. Well, okay, I was pretty confident about Shiba-chan recognizing Miki, but most of the 'forecasts' I've done in this story were wild guessing. Anyways I think I'm gonna stop it and stick to what happens at the moment so I can enjoy every chapter more('enjoy' is not the word for what I did in the last two chapters though...).

Just as Mikan, I didn't expect Aya to tell Miki this soon, but I guess Miki would be even angrier if Aya waited more(although it would be time in which Miki would fall deeper and deeper for Aya therefore making it harder to try to detach herself from her, right?).

About who saved Miki, it's really confusing, couse it's difficult to completely rule out a character in your stories, but I reread the chapter and judging by how collected the person is I'd say it's not Aya. So thinking about who could be collected in that situation Shiba-chan and Ochiai come to mind(well, in fact I had completely forgot about Ochiai, I just read Mikan's comment), and between those two my bet is on Ochiai. The one who called her earlier could be anyone though.
Just for the record, I made this last 'forecast' just because you said you were curious about who we thought it was xD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 23, 2007, 02:52:35 AM
Sevii: thanks!  Glad you're enjoying the ride.  Hope you get your jaw issue sorted out soon.  Hahaha.  And no, I don't think Sayu is going to make a surprise appearance.  I think you're right.  It's probably the last think Miki needs.

No worries, ChiruChaCha.  Although when I read your post, it was my turn for my jaw to drop.  I think I might've also said "shut up, ChiruChaCha!" out loud. Haha.  Actually, I enjoy it when people guess what's going to happen.

It was a bit difficult to decide to get Aya to tell Miki now, but the story is 20 chapters and I thought it was time for conflict between our two girls (and look: no death!).
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Sevii on July 23, 2007, 03:35:23 AM
It was a bit difficult to decide to get Aya to tell Miki now, but the story is 20 chapters and I thought it was time for conflict between our two girls

100 CHAPTERS OF LOVEY DOVEY FLUFF IS FINE.

Quote
(and look: no death!).

...yet.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 23, 2007, 04:23:08 AM
Doctor-ish? Hiroshi wanted to become a doctor... But, can it really be him? xD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: joyce on July 23, 2007, 05:30:55 AM
this mysterious person is causing pain in my head. 

hehe, just caught up with your series.  i really like how you use tension and suspense...here, and the other death ones too.  props*
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 23, 2007, 12:31:26 PM
Amarghetta, I'm surprised you remembered that.  You have a good memory for detail.

If anyone else mentions death again, I'll kill off Aya, Miki, and Shiba-chan.  I'm serious!!  (Hah!)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: coachie on July 23, 2007, 02:28:52 PM

If anyone else mentions death again, I'll kill off Aya, Miki, and Shiba-chan.  I'm serious!!  (Hah!)


death!

sorry, I just had to ^^

Last chapters felt like watching a dorama XD

And about Miki's mystery savior I'd say it's either Aya or Kuni-chan (or both) or Aya and Shiba-chan.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 23, 2007, 04:05:58 PM
Haven't seen you in a while, Coachie!  Just for you:

Requiem for Three

I wake up choking.

"We're losing her," mutters a distant voice above me.

It's low.  A man's voice.

"Stop being so dramatic.  She's just coughing," says another voice.

A woman's voice.

I cough and hack and clear my throat, massive amounts of phlegm piling up in my mouth.  I flip onto my side and spit.

"She's spitting on the floor.  Get her a bucket," the man orders.

I continue to cough and spit as a yellow basin is placed under me.  I spit into that.  When I'm done, I lie on my back, close my eyes, and fall asleep.

And that's the last mistake I will ever make.  Some time later - who knows how long - my windpipe becomes clogged up with phlegm.  I cough in my sleep, but I don't wake up to clear my throat.  The phlegm sits there, blocking air from coming to my lungs.  It's all very painless because I'm asleep.  One minute I'm living and breathing, the next I'm dead.

Dead.

I have died.

I know this because once I've passed through that black tunnel and stepped into the white light, I'm hovering above my body, looking down at it.  I feel great.  Ethereal, but not sick.  I have perfectly clear vision.  I can see myself lying on the bed, a thin line of drool running down from the corner of my mouth.  My eyes are closed.  I look peaceful.

I float up and look at the room.  It's Aya's room.  I make my way to the door.  I'm half flying, half hovering, half bouncing.  It's weird.  I float out of the door and see two people sitting in the living room.  One is Aya.  The other is Hiroshi.  I move in close to them.  I know that they can't hear me.  I'm dead.

The strange thing about being dead is that once you're in that state, you know it and you accept it.  It's not like that movie Ghost that my cousin has forced me to watch three times.  There's no crazy "oh dear, what's going on?" moment.  You simply know that you're dead.  I am one hundred percent dead.

"I hope she's okay," Aya says.

She's sitting on the couch, hugging her knees to her chest.

"She'll be fine," Hiroshi says, perhaps a little gruffly.

He's got to be pretty mad at Aya for stealing his girlfriend away from him.  What is he doing in her apartment?

"I'm going to go check on her," Aya says nervously, starting to get up.

Hiroshi reaches out and puts a firm hand on Aya's shoulder to stop her.  Then feeling awkward, he takes it away.  Aya sits back down.

"She's fine.  Let her rest."

Oh, Aya.  Don't go into that room.  You're going to get such a shock... I think.

I start to cry a little.  Ghosts can cry.

I'm going to miss her.

Hiroshi crosses his arms and clears his throat.

I'm going to miss him, too.  I'm going to miss them both.  Two people that I love.

I hope neither of them ever go into that room.

They sit in silence, and I hover and watch.

Finally, Aya gets up again.

"I'm going to go and check up on her."

Hiroshi doesn't try to stop her this time.  I float in front of her.

"Don't go," I whisper.  "Don't go into that room, Aya.  Please don't."

But of course she can't hear me.  She can't feel me.  I can't move pennies to inform her of my presence.  Whoopi Goldberg's not going to come and help me out.

Aya walks into the room.  I can hardly stand to follow, biting my lip the whole time.

She doesn't notice anything strange at first.  The lighting in the room is dim.  She looks down at my body's face, even snickers at the drool, and wipes it away with my own pyjama shirt.

Ew.  Is that what she's always done?  Wiped my drool away with my own clothes?  She could at least find a cloth...

Then she notices something.

"Miki?" she asks.

My body, of course, does not reply.

"Miki??"

She puts her hand on my chest.  She puts her ear to my mouth.

"Hiroshi!!" she screams.

Hiroshi races into the room as Aya starts shaking my body.

"She's not breathing!"

Hiroshi pushes Aya aside and checks for my pulse and my breath.  He looks terrified when he can't find either. 

"Call the paramedics!" he yells.

He starts to yell in my body's ear as Aya, frozen with fear, stares.

"Call an ambulance!!" he yells angrily, making Aya snap to attention.

She runs to the phone and makes the call.  I watch Hiroshi work on my body.  He's checking my mouth, clearing it out, giving me artificial respiration...

It's not going to work, I think sadly.  I'm already out.

He doesn't stop, and I go to kneel by him, putting a hand on his shoulder.

"Thank you for trying, though.  I'll always love you for that."

He doesn't feel or hear me.

He continues to work, trying every possible trick he's learned to revive me.

Aya comes back into the room.  She's in hysterics.

"What's happening?  Why isn't she breathing?  How did this happen?  We only left her for a minute.  I knew I should've checked on her befo-"

"Shut up," Hiroshi mutters.

I get up and go over to Aya, hugging her.

"Just go and sit in the living room.  Don't watch this.  I don't want you to see it."

She doesn't feel or hear me.

She continues to watch, tears starting to form in her eyes.

Stop watching.  I love you too much to let you see this.

An eternity passes and a knock comes at the door.  Aya rushes to it, and the paramedics run in.  They force Hiroshi and Aya out of the room and start to do the exact same thing Hiroshi just did.

To no avail.

Hiroshi and Aya stand at the doorway trying to peer in, but they're shut out.

"Please, have a seat," says one paramedic.

Offering Aya a seat in her own home.  Now that's funny.

Time passes.  I don't watch the resuscitation attempts.  I watch Hiroshi and Aya.  I reminisce over the memories we have together.  I hope that they can reconcile whatever differences they may have between them.  I wonder how Hiroshi got into contact with Aya, although I guess there are lots of ways to come across people.  He must've come to Tokyo to search for me.  Well, he found me.

I watch them as one of the paramedics comes and tells them I didn't make it.  I start to cry as they both cry.  I watch my body being wheeled away.  Aya tries to follow me, but Hiroshi holds her back, and she turns and sobs into his chest.

Hey, watch it there, buddy.

He'd better not be trying to make a move on her.

I sigh and laugh it off.  Death has given me quite the attitude.  I can laugh at my death and make light of the reactions of my friends.  Cold, but what else can I do?  I can't go back to life.  I have to make death easier for myself with humour and jokes.

They spend the day together.  They don't say a word.  They just sit there.  I sit in between them on the couch.  There's just enough room for the three of us.  I look from one to the other and I wonder for the billionth time how I can love two people who are so different.

Hiroshi finally gets up to leave.

"Where are you going?" Aya asks desperately.

"I have to go," he mumbles blankly.  "I need to go back home and tell everyone."

Where is he going to get a plane ticket at this hour?  Silly boy.  He should spend the night and go back tomorrow.  But he's not thinking straight, and that's understandable.

"Don't go," Aya begs him, but he's made up his mind.

"I have to."

"But I don't want to be alone," Aya whispers in a terrified voice.

He gives her a look.  A kind of "well, that's life" look.  Maybe he's thinking that she doesn't deserve his help.  After all, she took me away from him and left him all alone.  Although that's a little different.  There was no death involved in that.

"Thank you.  Goodbye," Hiroshi says, and he walks out.

At least he's polite.  Saying thank you for the stay.

Aya sits back down and hugs a pillow, crying softly.

I know what's going to happen before the idea even starts to form in her mind.

"No, don't," I mutter, but it's too late.

She gets up and rummages around her closet.  She finds painkillers and alcohol.

"Don't be an idiot, Aya.  Don't be an idiot.  Don't don't don't don't..."

She tips a bottle of painkillers into her mouth and chases it down with whiskey.

I don't know why Aya has whiskey in her apartment.  She doesn't even like it.  Maybe it was a gift.

She rummages around for more pills while looking like she's going to be sick.  She finds other sorts of medicines and takes all of them.  She grimaces as they go down, and soon enough, she's consumed the entire fifth of whiskey.

"You idiot.  This isn't going to solve anything.  Don't do this."

I start to cry a little.  I can't help her.  If she dies, all I can do is watch.

She starts to sway around.

"Miki... if I... you can't be alive... then in death... we're together... yeah..."

She falls over, hitting her head on the corner of a table.  She's out cold.  I kneel down beside her and cry.

"Why'd you do this, Aya?  Why?"

In death, we are also given knowledge.  Knowledge about the workings of death.  My knowledge is this: Aya and I won't meet in death.  Because she has willingly taken her own life, she - or her ghost, if you prefer - will exist in a different plane.  In short, we'll wander the same places, but we'll be invisible to each other.  No psychics.  No pennies.  No communication.

I sit and wait.  I listen for Aya's breathing.  I can't hear any.

I sigh and touch her forehead.

"Stupid," I say gently.  "But at least you loved with all your heart."

I sit on the floor and wait.  In death, I've turned into a patient person.  I wait a day and a half before someone notices that Aya's incapacitated.

Fittingly, it's Shibata that makes the discovery.  She comes to the door one day and eventually gets in.  I guess that means she has the other spare key.

She sees Aya lying on the floor and freaks out.  She can tell, though, right away that Aya's not alive.  She calls the police, and the same process is repeated.  They come in, poke and prod at her body, and then announce to Shibata that there's nothing they can do.  There are lots of questions, and I feel sorry for Shibata to have gotten involved in all this.  I decide to follow her out.

Shibata has a good, smart head screwed onto her shoulders.  She doesn't off herself.  A truck takes care of that for her.  As she's walking home from the police station in a daze, she doesn't pay attention to the streets, and she walks right through a red light and right into a speeding truck.

I gasp and yell out her name, but of course she doesn't hear me.

The rules of death dictate that victims of car accidents will not meet those that die in the throes of sickness.  I will never speak to Shibata again.

Chaos ensues, and the next day, the three of us make headline news.

Three girls dead in series of tragic accidents.

Aya's death is not labelled a suicide.  Someone must've paid a lot of money to get information like that concealed.  I'm glad, though.  Nobody would understand that she did it because she loved me so much.  Also because she was stupid and crazy.  But mostly for love.

And so I'm left alone in Tokyo.  The rest of my death I shall spend all alone.

That is why we dead need a sense of humour.  For if you don't have one, you go insane.

Why?

Because death lasts slightly longer than your average life.

Death lasts for eternity.

===


I don't make empty threats.  I wrote this story because you were all asking for it. :lol:  But this chapter has absolutely no weight in this story.  Please forget it happened.  I repeat, it is not part of my story.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 23, 2007, 04:35:55 PM
Hehehehehe :lol:
.
.
.
.
.
.
NEVER DO THIS AGAIN YEAH?!!!! You freaked the hell out of me!!! :angry1: :OMG: :scolding: :mon cweepy:
Man man man....^^
Well nice 'SAD' chap anyway^^
hoho xD



 :shifty:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 23, 2007, 04:37:35 PM
What so is there gonna be more or is more of  a slap-in-the-face kinda ending?
Mikan is so confused....  :bleed eyes:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 23, 2007, 04:49:29 PM
Hahaha, it's a slap in the face, but not an ending.  Chapter 20 will be posted as if this interlude never happened.

Gomaki, I'll never do it again!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 23, 2007, 05:00:14 PM
Hahaha, it's a slap in the face, but not an ending.  Chapter 20 will be posted as if this interlude never happened.

Gomaki, I'll never do it again!

:hee: :whistle: :mon thumb:
goood!~^^
 :lol:
Oh wait...can I / We trust that? :lol:
Never mind~    :D
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: rndmnwierd on July 23, 2007, 07:20:40 PM
I skipped all the comments and went straight to the story, reading it open mouthed. Then I noticed the note at the bottom, read the comments and then the story again. And then I started to giggle. It was this freaked out little sound that made my dog look at me funny and I realized that you actually killed a little part of my sanity. So thank you, sincerely, because sanity is for saps.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 23, 2007, 10:15:09 PM
Amarghetta, I'm surprised you remembered that.  You have a good memory for detail.
Ha, I'm surprised myself... But, honestly, I don't think it's him.  :roll: Oh, nice interlude, btw. It was fun to read.  :lol:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 24, 2007, 02:49:06 AM
...and I realized that you actually killed a little part of my sanity. So thank you, sincerely, because sanity is for saps.
Hah, cool.  My pleasure.  What's your dog's name?

Back to the regular story.  Please remember that Requiem for Three did not happen.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 24, 2007, 03:01:02 AM
Chapter 20

At some point while being roasted and frozen simultaneously, I woke up.  I opened my eyes, my vision clearer than it had been before.  I was only looking at a white ceiling, but there were no black spots on it.  My head pounded with the same intense headache, however, and my body felt useless.  It burned with pain.

I blinked a few times and turned my head slightly.  I felt something.  Someone was watching me.  I came eye to eye with a familiar face that often greeted me like this in the morning.

"Aya," I mumbled, my voice weak.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

She was sitting on the bed looking down at me, hands folded in her lap patiently.

"What happened?" I asked, ignoring her question because I didn't want to tell her that I still felt like I was going to die any minute.

She explained to me slowly that Kuniko had called me early in the morning and had gotten scared by my answer.  She'd called Aya to find out what was going on after I didn't pick up any subsequent calls.  Aya had rushed down to the station, met with Kuniko (who had run from 7-Eleven), and found me.  They'd lugged me into a taxi cab, and had taken me back to Aya's place.

"Where'd Kuni-chan go?" I mumbled, looking around the room.

"She left right when we got here.  She had to work.  I told her I'd take care of you and call her with an update."

I tried to remember all this happening, but I couldn't.  I remembered a phone call and hanging up on someone.  I remembered someone dragging me into a car.  I remembered a shower.

"I had to almost physically kick her out of here.  She insisted that she wouldn't leave your side until you woke up.  That is one obsessively loyal girl."

"She's a Scorpio," I said offhandedly.

Aya mouthed an "oh".

So Kuniko had been that worried about me.  Worried enough to run over from work, where she had no doubt called from, and be willing to skip work to stay by my side.  But how genuine was it?  I didn't get to ask.

"Where did you sleep last night?" she asked.

"Where you found me."

I was too tired to make up stories or excuses.  She looked at me with a disapproving frown, but then it quickly melted into one of concern.

"You scared me."

I was still waking up and trying to figure out what this apprehensive feeling at the back of my mind was.  I had forgotten what had happened and needed to remember.

I had woken up by the station covered in snow this morning, and then I'd ended up here in this apartment.  Before that was last night.  What had I done last night?  Last night I'd gone to a family restaurant and had tea.  And before that... I had argued with Aya.  I had argued with her because...

Because she had used me.  Used me to replace some other person that was not me.

But it all seemed so trivial now.  All I wanted to do was lie down.  I wanted to give up.  I just wanted to not feel the way I did.  Trampled on and dragged through the mud.  I wanted to sleep until we grew two years older and no longer cared for each other so that we could part amiably and maybe keep in casual touch by going for coffee twice a year.

It suddenly hit me that it was Monday.  We both had to work.

"Why aren't you at work?" I asked weakly.

"I cancelled everything after I brought you here.  You're in no condition to be alone."

I tried to thank her.  Even if she had treated me badly in other respects, she had still somewhat saved my life, and I was a polite person.  However, I couldn't manage to get the word past my lips.  I felt weak from sickness and from relief.  Relief that I wasn't going to freeze to death outside.  Relief that Aya wasn't mad at me for storming out after calling her a crazy, perverted freak. 

I lay there with just enough energy to keep my eyes open to look at her.  Then, with no warning and no control over my actions, tears started to form and spill out of my eyes.  My face didn't change its expression much.  I cried like that because I was too tired to do anything else.

I was grateful that she had at least cared enough to come after me and bring me to her apartment.  I was upset because of what she'd done to me all these months.  I felt helpless because I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't move my body enough to take care of myself.  I couldn't figure out what exactly Aya had been thinking since she met me.

I blinked a few times, causing more tears to pour out.  Aya brushed some of my tears away with her fingers and then went out to fetch a tissue, gently wiping my cheeks and my ears with it.  I lay there without resisting, crying in front of her for the second time since I had met her.

My eyes stopped watering gradually, and I stared up almost blankly, my head spinning, my whole body feeling like my blood had been replaced by liquid lead.

"Aya-" I mumbled powerlessly.

I wanted her to take care of me.  My mother wasn't here to do it.  I had nobody.  Nobody but Aya.  I wanted to ask her to stay with me for a while until I got better.  Then I could storm off again.

She bent her head down, putting her ear to my mouth to listen to what I had to say, but I had no more energy to even think of how to phrase my request.  I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.

I alternated between sleep and semi-consciousness.  A few times when I was partially awake, I could hear Aya speaking.  Sometimes I heard and saw no sign of her.  Other times I could sense her sitting in the room and watching over me.  Sometimes I awoke shivering and others I awoke sweating.  I couldn't remember everything that happened when I was awake, though.  I had the feeling that I spoke a little, but maybe I didn't.

When I finally fully woke up, I felt sick to my stomach, and so I stood up, Aya nowhere in sight, walking to the washroom on wobbly legs that didn't feel like my own.  When I got there, I knelt down by the toilet and waited.

"Miki?" asked a voice from the darkness.

I looked up and out of the washroom to see Aya walking from the kitchen with a glass of some drink.

"What's the matter?"

I gave her one look of desperation and she understood.  She hurriedly put her glass down and came to stand by me.

"Don't worry," she comforted me.

In the end, nothing happened that time.  No violent regurgitation of the latest meal I'd eaten.  The nauseous feeling left me, replaced by the pain of my pounding headache.  Aya led me back to the bed and covered me with warm blankets until I thought my body would either roast to death in the heat or collapse from the weight.

"Do you need anything?" she asked, her voice sounding like it was in another section of the city.

I shook my head once and fell asleep.

I slept for seven hours and woke up the next morning.  I felt like I'd been run over with a truck, beaten with a stick, and chewed up by a giant dog.  However, I didn't feel nauseous, and my pounding headache had been reduced to an occasional dull throb.

I turned my head slightly and saw the top of Aya's head.  She was sitting on the floor, leaning up against the bed, her legs stretched straight in front of her, arms crossed.

"Hey," I croaked.

I was parched. 

She didn't hear me, and I moved a hand and tapped her.  Her head jerked up and she looked over her shoulder, her eyes bleary.  She must have fallen asleep some time ago.

"You're awake," she said in surprise.  "What's wrong?"

I shook my head once to tell her nothing was wrong.  She let out a small breath of relief.

"Do you want something to drink?"

I nodded once, and she got up quickly, getting me a glass of water.  I sat up in bed and drank the whole thing, holding it out for more.  She got me a refill, and I gulped all of that down, too.

"Thank you," I said, able to speak properly once again.

Aya felt my forehead.  I remembered that action from the day before.

"You still have a fever," she observed.

I felt my own cheeks.  They were hot.

"What happened?" I asked again, hoping for a more detailed update.

"You've been delirious for twenty-four hours," she explained.  "You kept mumbling in your sleep and crying on and off a lot."

I'd cried many times?  I only remembered crying once.

"I think some sort of virus was already in you, and sleeping out in the cold made you vulnerable.  I called your bosses and let them know you were sick."

I hoped they'd understand.

"What about your work?" I asked.

She had said the day before that she'd called in, but what about today?  She was supposed to go in again, was she not?

She waved it off.

"They were pretty lenient about it.  In addition to the two metres of snow out there, they felt bad about losing my recordings the other day.  I explained that you had nobody else to take care of you.  And, I, um, exaggerated your illness."

"Sorry."

"No, not at all."

We fell into a silence.  We were both thinking about the argument we'd had before I'd stormed out.  We had to broach the subject eventually.

"Two metres of snow?" I asked, forestalling the inevitable conversation.

"Well, not quite," came the admission.

She walked over to the window and drew open the curtain.  I got up and crawled on the bed over to the window.  Sure enough, the buildings and streets were covered in white.  Apparently it had snowed right through Monday.  It was nowhere near two metres, but it was beautiful.  And it looked cold.  Had I actually slept out there?  No wonder I'd felt like I was going to die.  Aya pulled the curtains shut again.

"It's chaos out there.  Lots of train lines have shut down and all flights are grounded.  I went to a store last night and only one person had made it for his shift."

I lay back down under the covers and issued the appropriate sounds to indicate I was listening.

"But you don't have to worry.  You're warm here.  We've got heating-"

I sighed and interrupted her.

"Why are you being so nice to me?" I asked.

"Why wouldn't I be?" she demanded back quickly as if she had been expecting that question from me.

"Well... because yesterday - no - the day before yesterday... I yelled at you, and... I'm supposed to be mad at you.  And I don't want you to treat me nicely just because you're thinking of someone else."

Her face turned serious.

"I meant what I said before.  You're not a replacement.  Not even close."

I closed my eyes, too weak to jump up and yell at her.

"You and that other person aren't separate people.  You're the same person, okay?  I figured it out.  It's not the person that's different.  It's just the circumstances.  The environment.  I let go of any expectations, though, that I had left of you by my last night up there.  I wouldn't have allowed myself to do anything to you until I was absolutely sure that you were the only person that I... I don't know.  That I really wanted," she said, her voice wavering.  "I may be crazy, but I'm not a liar."

I opened my eyes and tried to see the truth in her eyes.  They looked sincere.  Then again, they'd looked sincere the first night we'd met and I'd introduced myself to her.  She must have been lying then.  She'd already known my name, she claimed.  All those times she'd reacted to the things I told her, she hadn't really been surprised or learning something new about me.  She had been confirming things she already knew.

But there had been some genuine moments.  Like when I told her I'd missed my university entrance exam twice and how I was studying bookkeeping and economics.  She hadn't known about those things before.

"No matter who you are," she continued, "and no matter how much money you make and what kind of job you have, you'll always be Miki.  The one I know and love."

There was that genuine look in her eyes.  But was it really real?  Could I rely on it?  I just couldn't tell.

I started to feel dizzy again, and I brought a hand up to cover my eyes to try and make it stop.  I was at a loss over what to say.

"You believe me, don't you?" she asked softly.  "That I don't care whether you're rich and famous or not?"

I took my hand away from my eyes, my dizziness momentarily stopped.  I kind of nodded without meaning to.

Had I overreacted the other night?  I had every right to be angry - and I certainly still was - but maybe I hadn't been entirely correct in my assumptions.  Maybe she really did feel something for me, not that other me.

The other me.

It wasn't fair.  If what Aya was saying about there being another version of me, then the things she'd done - her accomplishments and her fame - would precede me wherever I went.  People would continue to make judgements about me before knowing me.  The other Miki's enemies would automatically become my enemies, while her friends - her Aya - would be drawn to the things about their friend that they saw in me.

I didn't want that.  Maybe Aya could convince me that she loved me and not someone else who looked like me.  She'd taken the time to get to know me.  But people like Tsuyoshi and Katherine, with whom Aya said the other Miki had gotten along... Would they have liked me as much if they'd met me without having that mysterious sense of familiarity?  Would I have had a chance to be on good terms with Ohashi and Kuniko the Lesser if there'd been no other Miki?

"You said you didn't expect anything from me," I said quietly.  "But when I got here, you expected me to do all these things.  You encouraged me to take that job at U-Con so that I'd get discovered by my boss..."

I wanted to believe her so badly when she said she didn't expect me to be like the other Miki, but there was too much. Too much...

Aya tilted her head to the side in thought.

"I won't lie and say that the thought of you being discovered never entered my mind.  But I was just trying to help you with your dream.  Besides, I knew that it would be a good place to work.  Tsuyoshi-kun and Katherine-san are good people.  I knew you'd like them."

Could I trust her when she said this?  I looked into her big eyes and saw not a hint of dishonesty or uncertainty.

I might not be able to forgive her completely.  Not yet.

But maybe I could take this as truth.  This little bit.

I smiled ever so faintly, but the echo of cheerfulness left me right away.

"So now what?  What do I do?  Will people keep thinking they know me?  Will I be pre-judged everywhere I go?"

Did she understand how unfair that was?  How utterly miserable I would be if I could have no opportunities to makes friends because of who I was?  Make no career advances based on my own merit?  I didn't want to live my life with one foot in the shoe of someone who shared my name, my face, and a few character traits, but who wasn't ultimately me.

"This is the life you're living now.  You can overcome those things if you try.  Make the most of it."

So those were Aya's words to me?  Just suck it up and deal with it?  Play your crappy hand because it's the only one you'll be dealt?

"But it's not fair," I insisted, growing stronger with my desperate anger at the world.  "Why do I have to deal with this problem?  God, it's not even a legitimate thing I can tell other people."

She stayed silent as I grew infuriated.

"It's not fair how if I tell my parents or Nakanoko-chan or even Hiroshi, they'll lock me in an insane asylum.  It's not fair, Aya!  It's not-"

"How do you think I feel about it?" Aya snapped sharply.  "I went through the same thing, but even worse.  I lost the person most important to me."

She didn't slap me, but she may as well have.  I shut up.  Of course.  Aya's world had changed, too.

"I didn't choose for it to happen to me either, and I sure as hell don't think it's fair, but I made do and tried to fix it, okay?  I put my job - my entire career – on the line to travel across the country to find you.  Stop being so selfish and spoiled.  You're not the only one with problems."

Shaken, I lay there staring at the ceiling, reflecting on my hasty complaints.  Aya had suffered a lot more.  At least I had had a choice whether to give Hiroshi up or not.  I had had choices in everything I'd gained or lost.  She had had no choice.  Her entire life had changed.

"Sorry," she said quickly, perhaps rattled by my silence.  "I've- it's been rough, okay?  Those two months.  Seeing you all the time while not being to tell you anything.  It was torture."

She'd done an amazing job of keeping it covered it up.

"No, I'm sorry," I mumbled.  "I didn't think about your feelings."

It must have killed her when she learned about Hiroshi and when she wished me bon voyage when I went to spend Christmas with him.

"So we've both been affected," Aya said, walking over to the window again and drawing the curtain, standing and looking out at the snowy landscape.  "Why can't we go through it together?  Don't you think that's what we're supposed to do?"

I looked at her looking out the window.  She had her arms crossed and the light from outside lit her whole front side up.  She looked like a bright angel.  I could see no weakness in her.  She was dealing with her problems like she said I should, and she was holding it together.

Everyone in her life had changed.  Even one of her best friends, Shibata, had changed.  Her family, too, would all be different.  Could I keep going if the change had been like that for me?  If I'd lost Hiroshi like that, what would I have done?  Would I have taken off to find him?  Would I have only told Nakanoko-chan while praying she didn't lock me up in the loony bin?  Would I have been able to be simply his friend if I'd found him in some far off city with another girl?

Probably not.  Aya was...

"Amazing," I murmured.

She turned her head to look at me.

"Pardon?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"Nothing."

I stared at her.  She stared back.

She was so strong.  How she managed to survive until this point, I didn't know.  I owed it to her to try.  She had given up the only thing left in her life that she loved - her career - to come and find me.  That was too much for me to deal with.  A love that strong...

"This is too much," I muttered, trying to get through everything.

I was still so confused.

"Are you scared?" she asked.

I laughed a little crazily at the question.

"Of course I'm scared!"

I was scared of not being strong enough to deal with everything now that I knew the truth.  I was scared of not finding my own, unique place in this world.  I was scared of doing something to break Aya, who had withstood so much until that point.  I didn't want to hurt her.  Even though she'd kept secrets from me, she'd never purposely tried to hurt me.  She deserved more.

Damnit, Aya.  Why do you have to be so perfect? I thought, a little angry that I couldn't be angry.  Why do you have to be so convincing?  So right?

I closed my eyes and took deep, calming breaths.

The truth was that if Aya wasn't there with me, I would have lost it after hearing all that.  I would have been terrified.  But her presence in particular automatically relaxed me.  She was right.  We were supposed to do this together.

"Hey, Aya," I said after a long pause.

"Hm?"

"I think you're right."

I heard her walk over beside me.  She patted my hand, although I didn't open my eyes.

"Me too."

We didn't know what the future held for us.  All I could do at that point was focus on getting better.  Once I was back to my healthy self, I could pursue this strange phenomenon with more vigour.  I could try and figure out what Aya and I meant to each other.  Her and me, not her and some look-alike.  The real me.

"I'm a bit tired," I informed her, and I felt her sit down beside me, keeping her hand on mine as I fell asleep again, weakened by all the excitement.

I thought I heard her say something to me.  Something about buying gloves for me.  Or maybe loving me.  It didn't matter.  She said a lot more by just being there to take care of me.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 24, 2007, 04:25:58 AM
Emotional up and downs aside, or probably because of them, it was masterfully resolved... You're making me like Aya more than Miki!  XD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Mikan on July 24, 2007, 04:42:57 AM
 :D Yay! they've sorted it out!!
But something still lurks around the corner...
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: shindoushiz on July 24, 2007, 04:51:12 AM
Awww...much better result than the fake chapter. :lol:  Aya is a really strong person.  I like how she fired back at Miki that it's just not Miki that is going through turmoil.

:D Yay! they've sorted it out!!
But something still lurks around the corner...
Mikan~ after such a nice chapter you just had to make the atmosphere all ominous. :cry:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on July 24, 2007, 08:37:16 AM
How cute  :wriggly:
I'm so happy right now!
I can't find the right words, it was a great chapter! :luvluv1: :luvluv2:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 24, 2007, 05:47:00 PM
Quote
If anyone else mentions death again, I'll kill off Aya, Miki, and Shiba-chan.  I'm serious!!  (Hah!)
Then you'd get us all hooked on your NEXT AyaxMiki fic. :lol:



Requiem for Three
Quote
I wake up choking.

...

I cough and hack and clear my throat, massive amounts of phlegm piling up in my mouth.  I flip onto my side and spit.

"She's spitting on the floor.  Get her a bucket," the man orders.

I continue to cough and spit as a yellow basin is placed under me.  I spit into that.  When I'm done, I lie on my back, close my eyes, and fall asleep.

And that's the last mistake I will ever make.  Some time later - who knows how long - my windpipe becomes clogged up with phlegm.  I cough in my sleep, but I don't wake up to clear my throat.  The phlegm sits there, blocking air from coming to my lungs.  It's all very painless because I'm asleep.  One minute I'm living and breathing, the next I'm dead.
Whoa, it's the whole "out of body experiece/POV" thing. :O


Quote
I have died.

I know this because once I've passed through that black tunnel and stepped into the white light, I'm hovering above my body, looking down at it.  I feel great.  Ethereal, but not sick.  I have perfectly clear vision. I can see myself lying on the bed, a thin line of drool running down from the corner of my mouth.  My eyes are closed.  I look peaceful.
Being Miki, you just HAD to through in the drool, didn't you?


Quote
I float out of the door and see two people sitting in the living room.  One is Aya.  The other is Hiroshi.  I move in close to them.  I know that they can't hear me.  I'm dead.
Hmmm...I wonder how things went when the two of them finally met for the first time?


Quote
The strange thing about being dead is that once you're in that state, you know it and you accept it.  It's not like that movie Ghost that my cousin has forced me to watch three times.  There's no crazy "oh dear, what's going on?" moment.  You simply know that you're dead.  I am one hundred percent dead.
Well, Miki seems to be taking it well. :dunno:


Quote
"Miki?" she asks.

My body, of course, does not reply.

"Miki??"

She puts her hand on my chest.  She puts her ear to my mouth.

"Hiroshi!!" she screams.

Hiroshi races into the room as Aya starts shaking my body.

"She's not breathing!"
The sad thing is, Miki's watching the two of them having to go through this, knowing that, in a way, it's her death that has brought the three of them together.


Quote
Aya sits back down and hugs a pillow, crying softly.

I know what's going to happen before the idea even starts to form in her mind.

"No, don't," I mutter, but it's too late.

She gets up and rummages around her closet.  She finds painkillers and alcohol.
Aw hellz no. :cry:


Quote
I listen for Aya's breathing.  I can't hear any.

I sigh and touch her forehead.

"Stupid," I say gently.  "But at least you loved with all your heart."
Well, losing Miki once was hard enough. But to lose her a second time, especially when she was just in the next room? It was just too much for Aya to take.


Quote
Fittingly, it's Shibata that makes the discovery.  She comes to the door one day and eventually gets in.  I guess that means she has the other spare key.

She sees Aya lying on the floor and freaks out.  She can tell, though, right away that Aya's not alive.  She calls the police, and the same process is repeated.  They come in, poke and prod at her body, and then announce to Shibata that there's nothing they can do.  There are lots of questions, and I feel sorry for Shibata to have gotten involved in all this.  I decide to follow her out.

Shibata has a good, smart head screwed onto her shoulders.  She doesn't off herself.  A truck takes care of that for her.  As she's walking home from the police station in a daze, she doesn't pay attention to the streets, and she walks right through a red light and right into a speeding truck.
Damn you. :k-sad:


Quote
In death, we are also given knowledge.  Knowledge about the workings of death.  My knowledge is this: Aya and I won't meet in death.  Because she has willingly taken her own life, she - or her ghost, if you prefer - will exist in a different plane.  In short, we'll wander the same places, but we'll be invisible to each other.  No psychics.  No pennies.  No communication.

...

The rules of death dictate that victims of car accidents will not meet those that die in the throes of sickness.  I will never speak to Shibata again.

...

And so I'm left alone in Tokyo.  The rest of my death I shall spend all alone.

That is why we dead need a sense of humour.  For if you don't have one, you go insane.

Why?

Because death lasts slightly longer than your average life.

Death lasts for eternity.
So not only have you killed them all, but you've also doomed their souls to be forever alone, existing in some sort of purgatory, able to observe the outside world and yet unable to actually take part in any of it.

That's just cruel, you sick bastard.  :bleed eyes:


Quote
I don't make empty threats.  I wrote this story because you were all asking for it.  :D
Hey, I never asked that they be killed off. I never said anything about anyone dying, why the hell did I have to suffer? :D


Quote
But this chapter has absolutely no weight in this story.  Please forget it happened.  I repeat, it is not part of my story.
Lucky for you it isn't. You'd have had a riot on your hands.  :P



Chapter 20
Quote
I blinked a few times and turned my head slightly.  I felt something.  Someone was watching me.  I came eye to eye with a familiar face that often greeted me like this in the morning.

"Aya," I mumbled, my voice weak.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

She was sitting on the bed looking down at me, hands folded in her lap patiently.

"What happened?" I asked, ignoring her question because I didn't want to tell her that I still felt like I was going to die any minute.

She explained to me slowly that Kuniko had called me early in the morning and had gotten scared by my answer.  She'd called Aya to find out what was going on after I didn't pick up any subsequent calls.  Aya had rushed down to the station, met with Kuniko (who had run from 7-Eleven), and found me.  They'd lugged me into a taxi cab, and had taken me back to Aya's place.
Ah, so much for my theory (watches it spin down the toilet).

What I can't wait to see now is, how's Miki going to react once she remembers that/why she was pissed off at Aya in the first place. Also, does Kuniko know "the story" now?


Quote
"Where'd Kuni-chan go?" I mumbled, looking around the room.

"She left right when we got here.  She had to work.  I told her I'd take care of you and call her with an update."

...

"I had to almost physically kick her out of here.  She insisted that she wouldn't leave your side until you woke up.  That is one obsessively loyal girl."

...

So Kuniko had been that worried about me.  Worried enough to run over from work, where she had no doubt called from, and be willing to skip work to stay by my side.
I guess maybe Miki was supposed to work with Kuniko that morning, and the latter must have gotten worried when she didn't show up for her shift.


Quote
What had I done last night?  Last night I'd gone to a family restaurant and had tea.  And before that... I had argued with Aya.  I had argued with her because...

Because she had used me.  Used me to replace some other person that was not me.

But it all seemed so trivial now.  All I wanted to do was lie down.  I wanted to give up.  I just wanted to not feel the way I did.  Trampled on and dragged through the mud.  I wanted to sleep until we grew two years older and no longer cared for each other so that we could part amiably and maybe keep in casual touch by going for coffee twice a year.
Miki's wishing that she didn't feel so much for Aya as she does. If she didn't, then finding out the truth wouldn't have hurt so much. She could have just left her without being distracted and without going through all of the emotional turmoil that led her to fall asleep in the snow in the first place.


Quote
It wasn't fair.  If what Aya was saying about there being another version of me, then the things she'd done - her accomplishments and her fame - would precede me wherever I went.  People would continue to make judgements about me before knowing me.  The other Miki's enemies would automatically become my enemies, while her friends - her Aya - would be drawn to the things about their friend that they saw in me.

I didn't want that.  Maybe Aya could convince me that she loved me and not someone else who looked like me.  She'd taken the time to get to know me.  But people like Tsuyoshi and Katherine, with whom Aya said the other Miki had gotten along... Would they have liked me as much if they'd met me without having that mysterious sense of familiarity?  Would I have had a chance to be on good terms with Ohashi and Kuniko the Lesser if there'd been no other Miki?

...

I wanted to believe her so badly when she said she didn't expect me to be like the other Miki, but there was too much. Too much...
This would definitely be the thing that would trouble anyone, especially with the whole "sense of familiarity" thing.  In a way, Miki's feeling almost like a fraud, an imposter. It's like she's living out the life that was meant for the other Miki, the one that initially went missing who was herself a famous singer.  Miki doesn't like that idea, the idea that she's living someone else's life, and that certain things (like who she gets along with, etc) have been pre-determined for her and that she herself had no say in the matter. If that were indeed the case, than what does this Miki have to look forward to? How can she know for certain that her life is hers? Are the things that she likes and desires are really her own, or are they those of the other Miki?  She wants to live HER life on HER terms, not someone else's.


Quote
"But it's not fair," I insisted, growing stronger with my desperate anger at the world.  "Why do I have to deal with this problem?  God, it's not even a legitimate thing I can tell other people."

She stayed silent as I grew infuriated.

"It's not fair how if I tell my parents or Nakanoko-chan or even Hiroshi, they'll lock me in an insane asylum.  It's not fair, Aya!  It's not-"

"How do you think I feel about it?" Aya snapped sharply.  "I went through the same thing, but even worse.  I lost the person most important to me."

She didn't slap me, but she may as well have.  I shut up.  Of course.  Aya's world had changed, too.

"I didn't choose for it to happen to me either, and I sure as hell don't think it's fair, but I made do and tried to fix it, okay?  I put my job - my entire career – on the line to travel across the country to find you.  Stop being so selfish and spoiled.  You're not the only one with problems."

Shaken, I lay there staring at the ceiling, reflecting on my hasty complaints.  Aya had suffered a lot more.  At least I had had a choice whether to give Hiroshi up or not.  I had had choices in everything I'd gained or lost.  She had had no choice.  Her entire life had changed.

...

Even one of her best friends, Shibata, had changed.  Her family, too, would all be different.  Could I keep going if the change had been like that for me?  If I'd lost Hiroshi like that, what would I have done?  Would I have taken off to find him?  Would I have only told Nakanoko-chan while praying she didn't lock me up in the loony bin?  Would I have been able to be simply his friend if I'd found him in some far off city with another girl?

...

She was so strong.  How she managed to survive until this point, I didn't know.  I owed it to her to try.  She had given up the only thing left in her life that she loved - her career - to come and find me.  That was too much for me to deal with.
And now here Miki realizes that Aya has gone through pretty much the exact same thing that Miki has been going through. And when Aya had to go through it, she did it completely blind, with only Shiba-chan there for support. Miki at least has Aya, the friends she made at 7-11 and at U-Con. Also, Aya had to deal with already knowing Miki, but being unable to show it or to tell her so much of it, which would have just made things so much harder for her.  While Miki might be angry at Aya for keeping those secrets from her, she has to realize just how tough it's been for Aya to keep those secrets.


Quote
The truth was that if Aya wasn't there with me, I would have lost it after hearing all that.  I would have been terrified.  But her presence in particular automatically relaxed me.  She was right.  We were supposed to do this together.
After mentally going through all the doubts about herself again, Miki's going to take a stand. Aya had practically no one to stand with her when her world was turned upside-down, but she's not going to let Miki be alone as she goes through the same thing.  More importantly, Miki, who, up until this point had usually relied on only herself, now is willing to accept Aya's help and is ready to face the future together.


Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on July 25, 2007, 01:52:38 AM
Argh.  I hope you are happy OTN1.  You have officially pulled me out of lurker status to praise you.

I'm not going to comment on everything you've written on this forum (well not yet anyway) but I have read all your stuff.  And I love it all.  I can't tell you how much time I've wasted reading, and rereading, all of your stories.  In fact at one point I was in danger of not doing well in my classes overseas because of your horribly/wonderfully distracting writing.  *waves fist* 

I think at this point most of the comments I would have made have already been stated by someone else.  So the only other thing I will add is that your grasp on Japanese culture is amazing.  Everything is portrayed perfectly.  You must have lived in Japan at some point. 

Major props to you.  I will be eagerly awaiting your next chapter! 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 25, 2007, 03:27:23 AM
So not only have you killed them all, but you've also doomed their souls to be forever alone, existing in some sort of purgatory, able to observe the outside world and yet unable to actually take part in any of it.

That's just cruel, you sick bastard.  :bleed eyes:
Come on, you know you enjoy it.  The pain, hopelessness, and angst of GAMS (Great Aya, Miki, and Shiba-chan).  Hahaha.

I'm glad the chapter was to people's liking (everybody except Amarghetta, who I know secretly hates me for making Aya so right and likeable in that chapter).  I really wanted to startle Miki and impress upon her that Aya hasn't had it easy either.  It's important for her to know that in order for forgiveness to come a little more easily.

Novaforever, sorry for the trouble.  Hahah!  My studying and work have been interrupted by my writing, too.  But thank you for reading, enjoying, and commenting.  I appreciate your words very much.  And yes, I do have experience living in Japan, but I still have much to learn.

Honestly, I'm a little stumped with the next part.  I know what's going to happen, and I've even written a scene from a chapter further down the line, but every time I put a pen to paper to continue, nothing comes out.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 25, 2007, 05:47:47 AM
Quote
Come on, you know you enjoy it.  The pain, hopelessness, and angst of GAMS (Great Aya, Miki, and Shiba-chan).  Hahaha.
Well duh. :P

Still cruel though.


Quote
I really wanted to startle Miki and impress upon her that Aya hasn't had it easy either.  It's important for her to know that in order for forgiveness to come a little more easily.
Indeed, it ended up being like a wake-up call for her. Aya's had it just as hard, but this Miki never realized that because all she's ever seen of Aya is the happy/in love Aya who's completely devoted to her.  Miki didn't think Aya understood how hurt she was, and now she knows that Aya DOES know, and that she's experienced it herself. It puts them back on a "level playing field" and makes it easier for Miki to deal with it all.


Quote
Honestly, I'm a little stumped with the next part.  I know what's going to happen, and I've even written a scene from a chapter further down the line, but every time I put a pen to paper to continue, nothing comes out.
If you need to, feel free to take your time dude.  We'll still be here.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on July 25, 2007, 07:18:01 AM
I'm glad the chapter was to people's liking (everybody except Amarghetta, who I know secretly hates me for making Aya so right and likeable in that chapter).
Meow!  I don't secretly hate you for that. I mean, I don't make such things a secret.  :P

Neither I dislike Aya-chan. (Actually, my best friend thinks she's my fave H!P girl!) It's just that I'm such a Miki loyalist, that suddenly liking her more than Miki surprised me.  :roll: But it's all good, a little variety won't kill me.  XD

Honestly, I'm a little stumped with the next part.  I know what's going to happen, and I've even written a scene from a chapter further down the line, but every time I put a pen to paper to continue, nothing comes out.
Take your time. We all know it's worth it.  :yep:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on July 25, 2007, 03:14:12 PM
Honestly, I'm a little stumped with the next part.  I know what's going to happen, and I've even written a scene from a chapter further down the line, but every time I put a pen to paper to continue, nothing comes out.

Don't worry about it.  I'm sure all of us will wait as long as it takes for the next part.  I'm frankly impressed at the speed you've been turning out some of these stories in the first place.  It's amazing how fast you've been writing!  So take a little break *pats on shoulder*.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: black velvet on July 26, 2007, 07:00:09 AM
Ah, done with playing catch up. Anyway . . .

Yeah, I figured that everything was driving along too smoothly. This confrontation about Aya being pulled into another world with a slightly-different Miki was absolutely necessary. And, honestly, Miki had every right to be upset at first. Anyone would feel that way, I think. But, still, Aya expressed the point that neither of the two Miki's were actually different; they are essentially the same person, but one can dance while the other can't, and one lived in Tokyo and met Aya while the other remained in Hokkaido and went to university.

I'm really glad that they pulled through this. It's looking positive, so I think that no one will no longer doubt your "exploding moon cheese" methods of creating great angst and killing the essential characters off. :P But, you know that we love your stories and always come back for more anyway, right? xD

"Requiem for Three" was . . . Well, I was torn between laughing and crying. (C'mon, you made references to Whoopi Goldberg and the movie Ghost!)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Sevii on July 26, 2007, 09:00:17 AM
So I kind of laughed at your threat.
And then saw the next poster say death, and then my face went pale.

So yes, my jaw was on the floor while my face was pale turning blue while I read your little revenge.

After that's over and done with, and seeing Kuniko and Aya picking Miki up, I am normal again. Thank you.

*wiggles jaw*


But Kuniko huh, I don't know why she never leaves much of an impression for me. Don't get me wrong, I really like her, but just, I never think of her. She's not a presence that jumps out at me, unlike Ochiai, who I simply ADORE. I wonder when she's going to make an entrance, I just really like her lurking in the background. (I make her sound like some kind of strange, mysterious stalker who will end up dominating the world.) Although I must say I am really surprised at how loyal a friend Kuniko is. I think I'm starting to like her more, I don't know, Ochiai's still taking the crown in all your original characters imo, and Hiroshi still leaves a bitter aftertaste in my mouth. Grrr. /shakes fist.





Anyway, thank you for the new chapter and your successful attempt that managed to turn me into a smurf for five minutes. ^^

And writer's block = UGH. Don't worry, take your time, brilliant ideas don't always come rushing at a writer all the time. However, they always come at the worst time possible, IE: after you shut off your computer getting ready for bed.


Again, thank you for all your hardwork. :)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on July 29, 2007, 11:18:47 PM
Thank you for reading and for the encouragement.  I've honestly hit a mental roadblock.  In addition, I've been far too wrapped up in other things to think about this story.  I need some time where I can just sit down by myself for 3 hours and write.  I haven't had that opportunity lately, and it's killing me.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on July 30, 2007, 12:33:27 AM
^ It's alright bro. Do whatever you need to do. We'll still be here. :)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on August 01, 2007, 10:53:14 PM
Uh, long time since I last posted in this thread... I'll comment on the last chapters anyways.
 
 - Requiem for Three: first of all I have to say that I read the bottom line before reading the whole thing(the one saying it was  irrelevant to the story) so I probably read it at much more ease than the rest of readers. This said, I ended the chapter laughing, I mean, first Miki's death was all sad(and strange, may I add), then Aya's was sad too and made me want to yell "don't do it, stupid!" but Shiba-chan's was freakin funny!  :lol:  In the best way, but funny. Maybe I have a hidden thing for black jokes or something but absurd deaths make me laugh, not to mention Whoopy Goldberg's star appearance xD I'm sorry if that's not the way you wanted it to turn out, I have a pretty wicked mind anyways xD

- Chapter 20: Aya's concern and loyal service is really heartwarming, I liked that part. However, someone already said there still are remains of the issue at the back of their minds(or Miki's mind, at least).
I also liked this:


"I had to almost physically kick her out of here.  She insisted that she wouldn't leave your side until you woke up.  That is one obsessively loyal girl."

"She's a Scorpio," I said offhandedly.



 :lol: I like that kind of randomness.

And finally, about the writer's block, don't worry, take your time, look at things that could inspire you, ask for anything that could help you here if you need to, I'll sure not forget about this story quickly so you have a broad margin for taking your time with me at least  ;)

EDIT: I just noticed that the "with me" in the last sencence could be misunderstood xD so I'll make it clear. What I mean is that for me, as a reader of your story, you have a broad margin for taking your time(spending it with whoever you want xD)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on August 04, 2007, 04:01:33 AM
ChiruChaCha, you're absolutely right.  Shiba-chan's death is so ridiculous that it should be laughed at.  I  laughed when the idea of all three of them dying in a row played out in my head.  Hahaha!  Dark humour is great like that.  Don't worry, I understood what you meant.

And yes, I'm certainly taking my sweet time...  I don't want people to think I've forgotten about this story, though.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: g4rfield on August 15, 2007, 08:39:57 AM
I haven't read a good Aya Miki fic lately, but your fic is seriously making my head reeling, both from anxiety and sweetness. It's like a roller coaster even, when you know it would be fun, but quite frightening at the same time. The point had to be when Miki goes through her life half dead for the past 8 years after Aya's death. I bawled my eyes out like a baby. It's waaay too sad! But you did a great job pulling a tear jerker on that one, I can't complain...much.

I can't wait to follow their journey, what will become of their relationship? Will Miki be discovered? or the Other Miki who had a life with no Aya will get her Aya back??

 :cry: The mere thought about it all send the water work again.

Anyhow, I'll keep checking back to see more update from you. Sorry if my ramblings didn't make any sense. After non stop reading the Love x 2 from beginning to the latest chapter, you can expect my brain and emotion feel a bit like a mush.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on August 17, 2007, 11:02:39 PM
Thanks!  Wow, so you were able to read the entire thing in one go?  Haha, how long did it take?  A few days?  A week?  I'm glad you enjoyed/tore your hair out/cried your eyes out.

The good news is that I'm working on the next part.  The bad news it that it might take a while because I'm very busy at the moment.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: g4rfield on August 18, 2007, 12:00:46 AM
Ah, that's okay. Take your time. Like everybody said, don't rush and plan the story well. We want quality and a bit of quantity too.  lol:

How long it took? The WHOLE day!! Yeah, so you can imagine me being a train wreck by...oooh lets say about 5 AM the next morning.  :bleed eyes:

I have a question for you. At the end of Love x 2, there was 1 chapter called My Own Private Funeral, which you then continued with Restart, then I just found that My Own Private Funeral had its own thread.  :? Huh?? So... which come first that's the question.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on August 18, 2007, 03:42:25 AM
I have a question for you. At the end of Love x 2, there was 1 chapter called My Own Private Funeral, which you then continued with Restart, then I just found that My Own Private Funeral had its own thread.  :? Huh?? So... which come first that's the question.
This might help you ... http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11131.0
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: g4rfield on August 18, 2007, 07:35:48 AM
This might help you ... http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11131.0
[/quote]

Ah...sou ka. Thanks Amarghetta.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 09, 2007, 12:36:24 PM
Thanks, Amarghetta, for clearing that up.  G4rfield, I hope that answered your question.

After a long hiatus, this story will continue.  I'm a bit excited about writing it, but also a little worried that I'll lose track of it midway through.  Good luck, me!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 09, 2007, 01:17:33 PM
Chapter 21

I was in bed for two more days.  My fever got worse before it got better, and for a moment while I lay there agonising over the injustices of life, it crossed my mind that my sickness was all some sort of karmic revenge for having laughed at Hasegawa's infection with the bird flu.  Maybe I had it, too.

Aya took care of me those two days.  She had to go to work on the second day, but she made sure she returned home as early as possible.  She sat on the floor by my side, brought me light food and water, read to me (nothing deep), patted my back when I felt sick, and even talked or sang me to sleep in a voice softer than I had imagined her capable of.

There was no more talk of the situation between us or the tension I felt at the back of my mind when I thought about it.  Thoughts pertaining to this were swept away by silent looks between us whenever we saw each other and by the incredibly ill feeling that had taken up most of my attention.

I woke up after those two days, my head feeling clear and my body wanting to stand up.  There was no dull throb of pain from the constant headache that had haunted me, and I felt genuinely hungry for the first time in days. 

I could see that it was dark outside, but I wasn't sure if it was late night or early morning.  I was alone in the room, although judging from the sounds I could hear coming from the living room, it couldn't be too early in the morning or too late in the evening.  There were voices speaking.  I assumed one was Aya's.

I rolled up from bed slowly, careful not to get a head rush, and I slid the door open quietly.  Sitting at the kotatsu were Aya and Shibata, each with a cup of tea, both looking very warm and comfortable with their heater.

When Aya saw me, she looked alarmed and started to stand up, asking what was wrong, but I shook my head.

"Don't worry.  Don't get up," I said quickly.

I had a feeling I had interrupted Shibata in mid-sentence.  She was eying me carefully.  I gave her a tiny nod as a greeting, and I made my way over to the table, inviting myself to slip my legs under the blanket.  Delicious warmth spread up my body immediately and I felt happier than I'd been in days.  My fever had kept me an uncomfortable kind of warm, but this heat that came from outside of me made me feel as though I was one hundred percent better.

"How are you feeling?" Aya asked.

"A lot better," I told her.  "No more sick feeling."

"Aya-chan told me you've been down with some sort of flu for a while.  I was worried," Shibata said.

Shibata.  A girl I'd met once and that I hardly knew other than through stories from Aya.  Why was it, then, that when she said this, she sounded genuine?  She didn't sound like she was merely being polite.

"Sorry to have worried you," I apologised.  "And thank you."

I looked to my left at the DVD player to check the time.  Half past nine.

I felt very disoriented, unsure of what day it was.  I didn't ask, however, because that knowledge would be of no use to me at the moment.  Whether it was Thursday or Saturday made no difference to me.

The three of us sat in an awkward silence.  There was a lot that had to be said, but nobody was taking the first step.

"Do you want something to eat?  Drink?" Aya asked quickly, almost seeming oblivious to the tension in the air.

She was a good actor.

"Actually, I could use both," I said sheepishly, feeling my hunger and thirst grow tenfold at her suggestion of food and drink.

Before I could say a thing, she'd sprung up and gone to the kitchen to get me something.  I was about to follow and help, but Shibata spoke to me and kept me seated.

"I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable last weekend.  I didn't mean to react that way to you.  I think Aya-chan explained why I did that..."

I felt like I was in a science fiction movie.  The topic we were about to get into - the topic I had decided from there on to push us deeper into - was the perfect subject for such a movie.

"I think I kind of get it," I said with a forgiving look.

Shibata took a sip of tea, pausing with her lips just grazing the rim of the cup.  I looked down at the surface of the table.  Aya started to heat something up in the microwave.

I pictured a photographer coming in silently and taking a photo of the scene.  Critics would call it his next great work.  They'd say things like "the way he's photographed it, you can see the tension - the awkwardness - in the air!"

No, it wasn't so much awkwardness as it was an uncertainty as to how to proceed.  Since there was no precedent, the three of us didn't know what was going on.  We didn't know how to talk about it.  Our brains required different methods to process the information.  If anything, Aya had the best chance of the three of us.  She'd been painfully aware of at least the first situation - the disappearance of her proper Miki - for months.  At least she was prepared to think in a different way.  The second situation was the fact that people in this city - people like Shibata - felt a strange familiarity when they saw me.  This one none of us had a grasp on.

"What about me do you find familiar?"

To say I was mildly interested would be an understatement.  I was wildly curious.  Shibata, on the other hand, couldn't keep a flash of discomfort from passing through her eyes.

"Why?" she asked me.

Why?  Wasn't it obvious?  I wanted to know just how similar we were.  Who was this other girl that shared my face and half of my history?

I was about to get this point across to her in fewer and more abrupt words when Aya came back with a bowl of food and tea for me.  Shibata and I hushed up as she set them both down in front of me, and I looked at her gratefully.

"Thanks, Aya-chaaaan," I said cutely, forgetting Shibata was there.

It wasn't a meal for kings.  It was rice and green beans.  Simple, but good for someone who hadn't eaten a proper meal in days.  I started to eat as slowly as possible, taking my time so that I wouldn't get that sick feeling one gets when one eats too quickly on an empty stomach.

"Well, now that she's awake, I should be going," Shibata said, standing up.

I paused with chopsticks in my mouth and Aya looked up in surprise.

"No, don't go," she said.  "You don't have to."

Shibata looked down at me quickly, and I nodded in agreement with Aya.  I still wanted an answer to my question.

"I should, though.  It's getting late."

Shibata would not accept the invitation to stay longer.  Aya got up to see her to the door as I sat and watched from the able.

"Once you recover fully, give me a call.  I'm sure we could find time to talk," Shibata said to me.

She then followed Aya to the door.  With a wave, she was gone.

Aya came back to the table and sat across from me.

"Are you sure you're feeling better?" she asked worriedly.

"Aya-chan, I'd be doing cartwheels around the living room right now if I wasn't afraid of crashing into your furniture," I reassured her.  "I'm fine."

She looked relieved.

"You had me worried.  One more day and I would've dragged you to the hospital."

I smiled at her while chewing.

"I'm fine," I repeated through a mouthful of rice.

Aya took the remote control and turned the television set on, setting it to some talk show for background noise.  I looked at the screen, and when I saw the newscaster, I was reminded of Nakanoko-chan.  The woman on the screen bore an uncanny resemblance to my friend, which reminded me that I'd called her a while ago and had heard no reply from her.  I'd become too busy with my life to follow up on my failed call to her, and I suddenly wondered if she was okay.

"But I need to make a phone call," I said quickly, getting up and trying to find my phone.

"Kuni-chan?" Aya asked.  "She called a couple of times to see how you were.  She'll be happy to hear from you."

"Oh, that troublemaker?  I'd forgotten about her," I joked.  "No, that's not who I'm calling.  A friend from back home."

I found my phone and settled back at the table.

"Are you finished with that?" Aya asked, pointing to my bowl.

I nodded.  She took it with the rest of the things from the table and went to do the dishes, giving me some privacy.  I found the correct number and pressed dial, waiting impatiently for a response.

Six rings later when I thought I'd be directed to the voicemail box, a tired voice answered.

"Hello?"

"Nakanoko-chan!" I exclaimed, although positive that something was wrong.

"Micchan, hi," she said, sounding relieved that it was me.

Who else could it be?  It's not like anyone else could be calling from this number.

"Are you all right?" I asked.

"Actually, I'm at the hospital right now," she said in a quiet voice.

My heart froze.

"What happened?" I demanded.

"I'm okay," she said quickly.  "I didn't tell you before, but my uncle was diagnosed with cancer.  It wasn't too serious, but his condition got worse two weeks ago.  I've been practically living here because he has nobody else.  The doctor says he doesn't have much longer."

I'd heard of this uncle.  He was a terror.  Nakanoko-chan had always told me horror stories about him back when we were younger, but over the years as she grew up and got to know him, he became less scary and more interesting.  Now he was on his deathbed...

"I'm sorry," I said.

"Don't be.  He's had a full life.  People might not like him much, but he's pretty satisfied with what he's accomplished.  Listen, I'm sorry for not returning your call before.  You sounded like you needed a friend."

"Hah," I said, remembering that terrible day.  "I'm fine now.  Just had a rough day."

I heard a noise on her end.

"Hang on a sec," she said quickly, and I heard her speak to someone before coming back on the line.  "Micchan, I'll contact you later.  There's been a change in his condition."

My heart went out to her.  It sounded like a change for the worse.  I said goodbye, and I wondered when the next time I'd talk to her would be.

"Everything okay?" Aya asked, coming back to sit with me.

I explained briefly the situation, and she stayed respectfully silent, and I compared my life in Hokkaido to my life in Kanto.  There was one thing that didn't make sense to me, and I changed our topic of conversation to reflect my curiosity.

"Why is it that none of this weirdness started until I came here to this city?" I asked.  "I lived the vast majority of my life without being mistaken for some non-existent celeb.  Then I met you, came here, and suddenly the entire city is bowing at my feet."

Aya looked just as puzzled about the question as I did.

"I don't know," she sighed.  "I don't understand any of it.  I haven't found any answers.  Trust me, I would have told you."

That was a mood dampener.  We sat silently watching the talk show.

Maybe we weren't supposed to meet, I thought suddenly.  Maybe things got messed up because of her coming to my hometown.

I shook my head.  What a ridiculous thought!

"What?" she asked.

I shook my head again.

"Nothing.  Are you tired?  Go to bed.  You've been working long shifts playing famous star and doctor."

"I'm not ti-" she started, but she interrupted herself with a yawn, followed by a sheepish look.  "I'm exhausted and I have to leave here at five-thirty tomorrow.  Do you mind if I go ahead?"

I pointed to her bedroom commandingly.

"Go sleep."

She saluted me and went off to get ready for bed.

I sat in the living room, not one bit tired, wondering what was going to happen from that moment on.  I turned to the television and watched talk shows well into the early morning, falling asleep under the kotatsu and having pleasant dreams that I couldn't remember the next morning.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on September 09, 2007, 01:58:34 PM
Oh yay!  I had to get up super early to do my laundry this morning and was in a bad mood about that.  But as soon as I looked here and saw you finally posted a new chapter on Restart, my bad mood disappeared! 

I'm glad that you got your inspiration or whatever to continue with this story.  I'm intrigued to see how the awkwardness over Miki and Aya's whole situation will be resolved.  Ooh there was so much tension there! 
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Kei-Br on September 10, 2007, 12:18:50 AM
WELCOME BACK AWSOME INPIRATION!!!! :love:

*waiting for more*
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 10, 2007, 04:34:17 AM
Quote
After a long hiatus, this story will continue.  I'm a bit excited about writing it, but also a little worried that I'll lose track of it midway through.  Good luck, me!
No worries dude! your loyal fans got your back! :rockon:



Quote
I was in bed for two more days.  My fever got worse before it got better, and for a moment while I lay there agonising over the injustices of life, it crossed my mind that my sickness was all some sort of karmic revenge for having laughed at Hasegawa's infection with the bird flu.  Maybe I had it, too.
Karmic revenge? Nah. Hasegawa's a douche.  No way she'd get a smackdown for THAT.




Quote
I woke up after those two days, my head feeling clear and my body wanting to stand up.  There was no dull throb of pain from the constant headache that had haunted me, and I felt genuinely hungry for the first time in days.
Sounds like her fever must have broken. :thumbsup



Quote
I rolled up from bed slowly, careful not to get a head rush, and I slid the door open quietly.  Sitting at the kotatsu were Aya and Shibata, each with a cup of tea, both looking very warm and comfortable with their heater.
Hmmm...Aya likely told Shiba-chan about Miki being sick.  Could it be that Shiba-chan came by to help Aya take care of her? :mon cute:



Quote
"Aya-chan told me you've been down with some sort of flu for a while.  I was worried," Shibata said.

Shibata.  A girl I'd met once and that I hardly knew other than through stories from Aya.  Why was it, then, that when she said this, she sounded genuine?  She didn't sound like she was merely being polite.

"Sorry to have worried you," I apologised.  "And thank you."

I looked to my left at the DVD player to check the time.  Half past nine.

...

"I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable last weekend.  I didn't mean to react that way to you.  I think Aya-chan explained why I did that..."

I felt like I was in a science fiction movie.  The topic we were about to get into - the topic I had decided from there on to push us deeper into - was the perfect subject for such a movie.

"I think I kind of get it," I said with a forgiving look.
Well, Aya's told Miki the "whole story". Shiba-chan's the only other person that knows the "whole story".  So here they are, both with knowledge of how things apparently were before, but with no way of knowing how to proceed.  They both have their own, separate relationships with Aya (who seems to be the lynchpin here), but how are they supposed to act with/to each other?



Quote
"What about me do you find familiar?"

To say I was mildly interested would be an understatement.  I was wildly curious.  Shibata, on the other hand, couldn't keep a flash of discomfort from passing through her eyes.

"Why?" she asked me.

Why?  Wasn't it obvious?  I wanted to know just how similar we were.  Who was this other girl that shared my face and half of my history?
It's only natural that Miki would be curious about this. Aya had told Miki that before, the 3 of them, Aya, Shiba-chan and the other Miki were all good friends. Well, what was it exactly about the other Miki that made her likeable? As she said, how similar were they?  Did Shiba-chan have any expectations on how Miki was supposed to act or be like since they supposed got along before?



Quote
"Well, now that she's awake, I should be going," Shibata said, standing up.

...

"No, don't go," she said.  "You don't have to."

Shibata looked down at me quickly, and I nodded in agreement with Aya.  I still wanted an answer to my question.

"I should, though.  It's getting late."

Shibata would not accept the invitation to stay longer.  Aya got up to see her to the door as I sat and watched from the able.

"Once you recover fully, give me a call.  I'm sure we could find time to talk," Shibata said to me.
Miki's question to Shiba-chan was big, and obviously she's unable or unwillingly to discuss it for the moment. For one thing Miki's still not fully recovered, and still needs some rest to get her strength back.  Secondly, Aya was there. For what she was asked, it should be kept just between Miki and herself.  She's subtly told Miki this, that that coversation they were about to have is something just for the two of them.



Quote
I'd heard of this uncle.  He was a terror.  Nakanoko-chan had always told me horror stories about him back when we were younger, but over the years as she grew up and got to know him, he became less scary and more interesting.  Now he was on his deathbed...
Well, they do say that knowledge is power. Quite often young people will find that their so-called "scary" relatives aren't actually that scary when they get to know them. They also often find that they begin to understand them better too.



Quote
"Why is it that none of this weirdness started until I came here to this city?" I asked.  "I lived the vast majority of my life without being mistaken for some non-existent celeb.  Then I met you, came here, and suddenly the entire city is bowing at my feet."
Well, back in "the other time", even when the rest of Japan saw her as a famous celeb, in Takikawa she was still seen simply as hometown girl Fujimoto Miki.  The way that you're seen in your hometown, amongst the people you grew up with is much different from how the rest of society sees you.  Everyone else reacts to her differently because they were used to seeing her differently.  None of them had seen her growing up as a child, going to school, having her heart broken by boys (and breaking a few herself). None of them saw her working at Baachan's, cooking meals and serving customers.  Likewise, in "the other time" the people of Takikawa, being pretty isolated the way that they were, probably weren't exposed that much to the type of media that people in Tokyo get and thus didn't see her as much in her "celeb" mode.  Two different ways of looking at her leads to two different ways of acting/reacting around her.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 12, 2007, 10:51:21 AM
Thank you, thank you.  It's nice to be back on this one... so I can get over with it.  Hahaha.  No, I'm not going to purposely turn out half-assed, messy chapter just for the sake of finishing.  I'm just excited about writing the end part.  It's going to be a challenge.

As usual, JFC, you have some interesting things in your break down.  However, there's one tiny little thing that... well, never mind.  You'll see... (hahaha!)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 12, 2007, 07:16:19 PM
Something tells me my ass is going to be working overtime on this. :lol: :shakeit:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 16, 2007, 10:38:47 AM
And now for some more fun.

Chapter 22

I woke up later in the morning around ten.  I was lying on the floor, boiling hot.  A pillow had been placed under my head, probably by Aya when she'd woken up to get ready for work.

I got up, testing my legs carefully.  Still weak but working.  I took a long bath so that my skin was squeaky clean when I got out.  Then I called my first boss.

Fukuda was exhilarated to speak with me.  He told me to come in next on Monday morning if I was certain I was all right.  I told him I could go in earlier than that, but he insisted I take the weekend to finish recovering.  He added in that on Monday morning Kuniko would be working a shift.

"She's been bothering me all week about wanting to work with you.  I told her it was out of my control, but she seems to think I'm a miracle doctor."

I got embarrassed by this and mumbled something half-hearted.  Fukuda sensed my mood, and without pushing that any further, he said he'd send an e-mail as soon as possible with a revised schedule for next week.  A schedule that included me.

We said goodbye, and I decided to wait before calling into my other job.  Once I knew one schedule, it would be easier to figure out the other one.

I didn't have to wait long.  Fifteen minutes later while I was rummaging for breakfast, Fukuda e-mailed me the revised schedule.

Fujimoto-sama-sama
Nice to have you back!


he wrote at the end of it.  I wondered briefly if in the other Miki's world, Fukuda had been someone in an inferior position to her and thus acted so nice to me without meaning to.

Or it could simply be that he was a really nice guy.

I had no idea.

I forgot about breakfast for a moment and wrote the schedule directly on my calendar, calling up U-Con immediately after finishing.  Tsuyoshi picked up the phone, and he shrieked when he heard my voice.

"You're alive!"

He sounded like a girl, that dork.  He quizzed me about my week, asking how I felt and so on.  I give him curt answers because I wanted to ask him questions instead.

"Sekiguchi!" I yelled over his monologue about good cold medicine.  "What's been going on there?"

I craved the gossip.  How disgustingly nosey of me.

"Oh, well, so much had happened while you've been gone."

He sounded like a hairdresser that used to work at the salon I went to get my hair done at.

"Kuniko started trouble with Katherine and got into a huge row with her.  Ohashi came by and joined Kuniko against Katherine.  They were coming down hard on her until Boss came out of his office and demanded to know what the commotion was.  Well, Kuniko and Ohashi sprinted away almost literally, saying Katherine had problems she needed to take up with him.  Of course she didn't, but she was left to explain the mess.  So she couldn't, except that I had heard the entire thing from down the hall 'cause I had been cleaning up Hiromi's desk.  Katherine was really angry, and she said to Boss..."

Wake me up when it's over, I thought, rolling my eyes, suddenly wondering why I'd asked.

"That's great, but how is everything now?"

There was a giant pause.  An embarrassed one.

"It's all okay.  They all apologised to each other.  Even Kuniko."

So then why did you bother telling me anything happened if nothing's changed?! I thought in my head, although not really angry.

"I think you're really bored, Tsuyoshi-kun.  Really bored."

He laughed nervously.

"Is it that obvious?"

"You need a life," I laughed.

He got offended, we argued playfully, and then we got down to business discussing schedules.  Tsuyoshi said he had things covered until the new week started, so I wouldn't have to go in until Monday afternoon if that was possible.  I told him the same thing I told Fukuda - I could go in sooner.  He insisted that I start Monday, so instead of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted the free weekend, and we hung up satisfied to have been able to talk with one another after so long.

The rest of the day I spent watching television, unwilling to leave the warmth and comfort of such a luxurious apartment.  When Aya came home that evening, I was dozing on the couch and had been doing so for the past two hours.  I woke up to a savage jab in the temple.

"You lazy girl.  You're not even dressed," she scolded me.

I looked at her uninterestedly and then indicated my fully clothed self.

"What's this?" I asked her.

Her glare deepened when she saw the track pants I was wearing.

"You look like a yanki."

I continued to stare at her with a look of indifference, and she eventually moved off to put her things away.

"So where's my dinner?" she asked.

Dinner?!

I had completely forgotten about dinner.  How could I have missed the opportunity to cook?

I sprung up and hurried to the kitchen to look through the cupboards.  Aya followed me as I started to get the rice out.

"I was joking," she laughed.

I frowned.

"No, I should've made something."

I continued to prepare the rice, scooping some into a bowl and filling it with water.

"Have you ever thought of pursuing cooking?" she asked.

I stopped cleaning the rice, my hand submerged in the water.

"Huh?" I asked, not comprehending.

"I mean professionally."

"Why would you suggest that?" I asked, swishing the rice round and round in the bowl.

She came to stand right beside me and watch me clean.

"Because I think you would've gotten angry if I'd scolded you about anything else.  But I asked you to cook, and you seem to love it enough to feel obligated to prepare a meal."

I stopped cleaning and thought for a moment.

Me?  Become a chef?  Study the culinary arts?  That would be different from what I'd always dreamed of doing.  But spending all day cooking sounded nice.

"You could take a class and see if you like it..."

For a brief moment I thought this was Aya's way of overcompensating for her earlier high expectations.  However, when I looked at her, she seemed genuine.  The more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me.  I didn't say anything aloud, but my thoughts were probably etched clearly on my face.  I was making no attempt to hide them.

"I'll ask some people I know.  See if they can recommend a good class.  You can work it into your schedule," she offered.

I smiled.  It was nifty knowing someone with connections.

"Thanks," I said simply, returning to washing.  "Sounds fun."

She went off to do something else while I pondered my future as well as what to eat that night.  Cooking sounded much more interesting than bookkeeping.  Studying herbs and spices would be much more fascinating than analysing world economies.

Later on during dinner, we talked about a few winter festivals happening on the weekend.  We were wondering whether to go to one on Sunday when Aya seemed to receive a communiqué via a telepathic line.  She looked up abruptly from her soup, her eyes sharp and open widely.

"Are you free tomorrow?"

I nodded.  Of course!

"I'd like to take you somewhere to meet someone."

And that was it.  No further description.

"Okay.  Where?  Who?"

Aya gave me a mysteriously happy look.

"A very interesting woman who owns a café not too far away from here."

"Let me guess," I spoke with rising suspicions.  "A café that you and the other me went to often."

I didn't mean to speak darkly, but it just happened.  I couldn't control my discomfort.

She caught onto my mood quickly and tried to placate me.

"Just trust me about this one.  She's a unique woman.  I think she'll like you for you.  She's really aware of, um, things.  I'm not sure how to explain it."

"Like Shiba-chan?" I asked.

"Hm.  Probably the best comparison I can think of.  They're somewhat similar.  But Ochiai-san is waaaaay way out there."

I raised sceptical eyebrows.

"In a good way!" Aya quickly amended.

My sceptical eyebrows went down.

"How'd you meet her?"

Aya looked surprised by the question, and then she put down her glass of water to think.  Finally, she spoke.

"I can't say.  I don't remember," she laughed.

Is she being an airhead or was it just so long ago that she really can't remember?

Whichever it was, it didn't really matter.  I'd find out the next day who this woman was.

We spent our evening in.  We were very quiet.  I stayed up late again watching television because I wasn't one bit tired due to all the napping I'd done all day.  Aya went to bed at an early and uncool hour for a Friday night.  Once again, I fell asleep wedged under the kotatsu.

Very early in the morning, probably just before sunrise, I felt something touch me.  I jerked awake.  I hadn't been asleep for long.  My eyes snapped open and there was a figure standing over me.  I started to scramble up as the figure spoke.

"Get out from under there," Aya whispered.  "You're going to get sick again if you don't sleep properly."

She dragged me up and took me to her bedroom, where she pushed me on the bed.  I curled up against the wall and closed my eyes.  Aya left the room and then came back a few seconds later.  I turned around and saw her holding a glass of water and drinking.  She put the glass down on the bookcase and then got into bed.

"Goodnight," she whispered, pulling the blankets up to her chin and closing her eyes.

And so without any pomp and circumstance, I mumbled "Goodnight," and then promptly fell back asleep.


Aya woke me up again at ten.  She looked quite happy.

"Get up and get ready!"

She left, assuming I'd get up on my own.  She was horribly wrong.  I went right back to sleep and didn't move a muscle until she woke me up half an hour later.

"I've been waiting for you all this time!" she screeched, grabbing the sleeve of my pyjamas and hauling me out of bed, making me fall onto the floor with a loud thump.  "I thought you were getting ready!"

"I'm tired," I groaned

I felt a sting where my hip had taken the hit.  I was definitely going to get a bruise.

"Get dressed and hurry," she ordered me in a sharp tone, throwing a pair of socks at me.

I grabbed at the footwear and gave her a cold glare.  She left the room, and despite the need I felt to be rebellious and not listen to a single word she said, I remembered her scary personality and quickly got changed out of my night clothes.

"Breakfast?" I asked, walking out of the bedroom.

"None for you," she snickered from the sink as she washed some dishes.

While I thought she was joking, she proved that she wasn't.  She managed to keep me away from the kitchen with threats, and then eventually with physical violence.  The bruise on my hip became the least of my worries.  At least I forgot that I'd been sick for a week and that I was in a world that was, in short, messed up.

We left the apartment an hour later, my stomach growling.  We were heading to the café.

"Come to think of it, I haven't seen Occhiai-san in a long time.  Not since last year around August," Aya thought aloud.

"Was the other Miki with you?" I asked.

"The way I remember it, yeah," Aya replied with a frown.  "But who knows what version everyone in this world remembers.  Maybe I went alone, maybe with Shiba-chan, maybe with someone else..."

I guess I could always ask this Ochiai woman who Aya had come with.  A strange question to a stranger, but what had to be done had to be done.

We hopped on a train and found ourselves at the café in a matter of minutes. 

When we were about to step through the front door, however, I felt a wave of apprehension pass through me.

"What is it?" Aya asked, pausing with her hand on the door.

What if things got weird in there?  What if I heard something I didn't want to?  What if I was expected to say or do something and I said or did neither?  Was Ochiai going to have any expectations?  Was I going to mess everything up?

"Nothing," I said with a warm smile, sweeping my worries under the carpet.  "Let's go in.  I'm cold."

A wind chime rang out as Aya pushed the door open.  The inside of the coffee shop was peaceful and immediately calming.  It felt like home, which was what I thought the owner was probably going for.  It was designed to look like a clean, neat, upper-middle class European home, but not in an overwhelming way.

We were met by a server who gave Aya a surprised look but said nothing other than her greetings.  It was a look that said "long time no see!" but that had to be kept behind a professional mask.

We sat at a table by the window and had menus placed before us.  Before the server left, Aya made a quick "stay" hand gesture.

"Is your manager around?"

I didn't think it would happen, but the girl smiled.

"Am I in trouble again?" she asked.

"Big trouble," Aya said with a straight face, which made the server laugh quietly.

Some inside joke I obviously didn't get.

"Yes, let me go get her."

The girl went off and disappeared into the kitchen.

"Friend?" I asked.

"No," Aya replied, lifting the stone expression from her face and smiling.  "I just know her from here."

I still didn't get the joke, but oh well.

I had no time to ask about it.  From the kitchen emerged a woman who looked like she was in her thirties.  She was one of those women that didn't try to hide her age, but managed to not look older because of it.  She was wearing casual business clothes, her outfit topped off with a dark blue apron.  She spotted us, and with a face that displayed some sort of emotion that I couldn't read, she walked over to us quickly.

"Oh, thank god," said the woman when she reached us, heaving out a breath of relief and looking right at me.  "You exist."

Aya and I exchanged wide-eyed, puzzled looks.

My life was turning out to be very strange.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: len.chan on September 16, 2007, 11:07:25 AM
uhm.. long time no commenting your fics.. sorry

so, ochiai remembers Miki, right? not just like shibata but really knows who she is. that's gonna be interesting XD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Sevii on September 16, 2007, 11:25:49 AM
Waaaaaaah!

Aya getting Miki back in bed was very adorable and thoughtful, very Aya-ish. It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Hahaha... I am so excited about Ochiai! But.. but.. the end of this newest chapter ... oh my. I'm expecting a lot more fun after this chapter.


OCHIAI, OCHIAI, YAY!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on September 16, 2007, 02:43:16 PM
now this is very very interesting.... ;)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 16, 2007, 11:10:42 PM
Quote
Then I called my first boss.

Fukuda was exhilarated to speak with me.  He told me to come in next on Monday morning if I was certain I was all right.  I told him I could go in earlier than that, but he insisted I take the weekend to finish recovering.
Awwww, such a kind boss. :)



Quote
He added in that on Monday morning Kuniko would be working a shift.

"She's been bothering me all week about wanting to work with you.  I told her it was out of my control, but she seems to think I'm a miracle doctor."
:lol:

Miki shouldn't be that surprised though that they all miss her there.  :oops:



Quote
Fifteen minutes later while I was rummaging for breakfast, Fukuda e-mailed me the revised schedule.

Fujimoto-sama-sama
Nice to have you back!


he wrote at the end of it.  I wondered briefly if in the other Miki's world, Fukuda had been someone in an inferior position to her and thus acted so nice to me without meaning to.

Or it could simply be that he was a really nice guy.

I had no idea.
Wouldn't surprise me if he was a fanboy.  :D



Quote
I forgot about breakfast for a moment and wrote the schedule directly on my calendar, calling up U-Con immediately after finishing.  Tsuyoshi picked up the phone, and he shrieked when he heard my voice.

"You're alive!"

He sounded like a girl, that dork.
He missed Miki-sama too!  :wub:



Quote
I craved the gossip.  How disgustingly nosey of me.
Oh come on, it's not that surprising that she'd want to hear all the dirt that happened while she was away. How else is she supposed to make work interesting? :wahaha:




Quote
"Oh, well, so much had happened while you've been gone."

He sounded like a hairdresser that used to work at the salon I went to get my hair done at.

*GOSSIP*

...

"It's all okay.  They all apologised to each other.  Even Kuniko."

So then why did you bother telling me anything happened if nothing's changed?! I thought in my head, although not really angry.
:rofl:

Simple, because Tsuyoshi missed her missed talking with her.  :oops:



Quote
When Aya came home that evening, I was dozing on the couch and had been doing so for the past two hours.  I woke up to a savage jab in the temple.

"You lazy girl.  You're not even dressed," she scolded me.
That could be a good thing. :twisted:



Quote
"Have you ever thought of pursuing cooking?" she asked.

I stopped cleaning the rice, my hand submerged in the water.

"Huh?" I asked, not comprehending.

"I mean professionally."

...

Me?  Become a chef?  Study the culinary arts?  That would be different from what I'd always dreamed of doing.  But spending all day cooking sounded nice.

"You could take a class and see if you like it..."
That'd be cool. Chef Miki-sama.  8)

Considering how much experience she's already gotten from working at Baachan's for so long, it does kind of make sense. We all know that (at least in this universe) she's quite good at it, as if it's a natural talent for her. Why not? Even if she doesn't end up pursuing it professionally, it still sounds like it'd be fun. :yep:



Quote
"I'd like to take you somewhere to meet someone."

And that was it.  No further description.

"Okay.  Where?  Who?"

Aya gave me a mysteriously happy look.

"A very interesting woman who owns a café not too far away from here."
Ochiai-san! :w00t:



Quote
"Let me guess," I spoke with rising suspicions.  "A café that you and the other me went to often."

I didn't mean to speak darkly, but it just happened.  I couldn't control my discomfort.

She caught onto my mood quickly and tried to placate me.

"Just trust me about this one.  She's a unique woman.  I think she'll like you for you.  She's really aware of, um, things.  I'm not sure how to explain it."
Kind of sucks that whenever Aya suggests a place or wants to introduce Miki to someone, she automatically suspects that it's because her "other self" knew these people. If we didn't know better, it would almost appear as if Aya was trying to re-create the "connections" that "the other Miki" had, possibly to try and make things "like they were", even though both Miki and Aya know that THAT would be impossible to do.  From Miki's perspective though, if she suspects that this is what's going on, it again would look like Aya's trying to turn her into "the other Miki", which would eventually lead them both back to the same suspicions and the same arguments that they had before that led to Miki leaving and getting sick and all.



Quote
"How'd you meet her?"

Aya looked surprised by the question, and then she put down her glass of water to think.  Finally, she spoke.

"I can't say.  I don't remember," she laughed.
Something tells me that before, Aya and "the other Miki" had met Ochiai-san at the same time, probably from a time when the two of them were out together and visited her shop.  When "the other Miki" disappeared, so did that first meeting that Aya would have remembered.



Quote
Aya woke me up again at ten.  She looked quite happy.

"Get up and get ready!"

She left, assuming I'd get up on my own.  She was horribly wrong.  I went right back to sleep and didn't move a muscle until she woke me up half an hour later.
:lol:



Quote
What if things got weird in there?  What if I heard something I didn't want to?  What if I was expected to say or do something and I said or did neither?  Was Ochiai going to have any expectations?  Was I going to mess everything up?
See, this is the main problem that's going to be bugging Miki since she knows about "the other Miki".  Even though they both know that Aya's really the only one who knows everything that happened, and that none of these people have ever met Miki before (and thus should have no expectations) the whole feeling of familiarity that seems to happen when she finally meets them is still unsettling.  Miki doesn't want to have to live up to the rep of her "other self", yet she almost can't help it when people look at her as if they know her.



Quote
"Is your manager around?"

...

"Yes, let me go get her."

The girl went off and disappeared into the kitchen.
...

From the kitchen emerged a woman who looked like she was in her thirties.  She was one of those women that didn't try to hide her age, but managed to not look older because of it.  She was wearing casual business clothes, her outfit topped off with a dark blue apron.
Thirties? :dunno: This can't be Ochiai-san, in the other universe she was older than that.  Something's definitely changed here. :o



Quote
She spotted us, and with a face that displayed some sort of emotion that I couldn't read, she walked over to us quickly.

"Oh, thank god," said the woman when she reached us, heaving out a breath of relief and looking right at me.  "You exist."

Aya and I exchanged wide-eyed, puzzled looks.

My life was turning out to be very strange.
EHHHHHHHH? :OMG:

I thought Shiba-chan was the only person that Aya told!  Who's this woman and how does she know Miki?!?!?  :dizzy:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on September 17, 2007, 01:01:43 PM
Yay!  Ochiai is back!  I figured that Ochiai would have the same odd feeling of recognition that Shiba had about Miki.  But to blatantly remember her!?  I guess if anyone would break the pattern it would be Ochiai. 

I'm so excited for the next chapter!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 18, 2007, 09:25:51 AM
Thanks, and I'm glad you all enjoy the suspense.

JFC, remember that it's Miki's perspective.  She's making an estimate about Occhi's age (which would be in the early forties according to the timeline).

There's lots more fun to come.  Lots of messed up rollercoaster fun.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 18, 2007, 01:31:11 PM
 Chapter 23

I don't know exactly what happened in the thirty seconds that followed Ochiai's statement.  Aya and I looked at each other, looked at Ochiai, and then back at each other in an involuntary imitation of a silly cartoon scene.

Aya was the first to react verbally.

"Excuse me?" she asked politely.

The manager of the café - who, with her simple statement, had just freaked me out in a way worse than Aya and Shibata had combined - invited herself to the third chair at our table and sat very straight, her hands folded on the table in front of her in an attempt to demonstrate the calm she had regained.  She looked directly at me, and I found myself squirming under her gaze.   She began to narrate her story.

"About four months ago, I realised everything had changed.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but when you two didn't come here as usual, I began to pry.  I checked up some sources and discovered that your histories had changed.  Well, yours had," she said, looking at Aya and then looking at me, "but yours didn't even exist."

"Wait," I interrupted.  "You actually know me?"

The woman nodded.

"And it's not just that you kind of recognise me or think you know me?" I asked, perhaps feeling a bit desperate.

I wanted her to just recognise me, not know me.  That way nothing would be different from the current norm.  We were already aware of people recognising me, and we were  trying to deal with it.  If this woman actually knew who I was, then we'd have to figure yet another thing out.

Ochiai frowned, and I lost hope.

"Yes, I know you."

"Ochiai-san," Aya said quietly.  "The same thing happened to me."

Ochiai looked at her.

"I woke up in a changed world where Miki-chan didn't appear to exist."

"Hey, I exist," I butted in, getting a little annoyed at my existence being brushed aside.

"Sorry," Aya apologised.  "I mean the one that I knew didn't exist."

"So who is this?" Ochiai asked, looking at me again with a slight frown.

"Who do you think I am?  Didn't you just say you knew me?" I retorted in an exasperated way.

Ochiai and Aya both paused and looked at me.  They must have known how painful it was to sit there and be talked about like that.  They must have realised they were being rude and confusing.  Or something.

"I mean," Ochiai continued slowly, "you're obviously different from the Fujimoto-san that I knew four months ago, but you're also obviously the same person.  I want to know how you got here.  How you met her."

She gestured towards Aya.

"That's Aya's story to tell," I mumbled, hoping that some light would be shed after everything was explained.

Aya looked at me as if getting permission to speak, and I gave her the go ahead: a blank look and a small nod. 

"I woke up one day and she had disappeared.  Nobody here - none of our friends or co-workers - knew who she was.  Only I seemed to have a memory of her.  When I realised she had been erased from the world, I went up to Hokaido to see if I could find her," she explained.  "When I found her, she didn't know who I was.  Not a single memory."

"And yet you still managed to convince her to come here?" Ochiai asked.

Aya appeared flustered at the question, and I, too, wanted to tell this lady to stop being so nosey.  Not that I cared.  But wait.  I did.

"Yeah, but that's not the point," I interrupted, and Ochiai let it be.

"All right.  So what's happened since coming here?"

Aya took another deep breath.

"She got here at the beginning of January, and at first it was okay, but-"

"It was never okay," I continued for her, wanting to tell my side of the story.  "From the moment I stepped off the train to go to Aya's place, people started to react strangely to me.  I've had people coming up to me and then apologising because they thought I was someone else.  I've had people staring at me with strange looks on their faces.  I've also had inexplicable encounters with people who had already judged me and have certain expectations of me.  I've made enemies with people I've never met before in my life.  I've probably received special treatment, too, because of who this other Miki is."

Aya jumped in and quickly explained the situation with Shibata, and by the end of it, I thought Ochiai would think we were crazy and leave.

She didn't, however.  She stayed and continued to talk.

"I'd like to confirm some things if that's okay with you.  Just bear with me."

Aya nodded.

"You've been patronising this shop for many years now."

Aya nodded again.

"At least once a week, sometimes more.  At the end of October, you stopped coming here, and I had a bad feeling about it.  It took me a month to turn to the gossip magazines and see what was happening with you.  What I saw were the usual ridiculous rumours, but what caught my eye was an odd reference.  You and your friend Shibata-san having done a tour together.  I don't consider myself an expert on your life, but I knew that had never happened.  Am I right?"

"Right.  It never happened!"

Aya sounded thankful.

"Well, at least what we know seems to match up."

"It does," Aya mumbled, the relief clearly showing on her face.

Silence for a beat.

"Why do you think this happened?" Aya asked.

Ochiai didn't appear to notice she was being addressed.  She sat in silence for a long time staring at the table, her face expressionless.  I was about to repeat Aya's question when she spoke up.

"I don't know," she started.  "I have no experience with supernatural phenomena.  Excuse me."

With surprising speed, Ochiai got up and walked over to the kitchen where a distressed man in an apron was waving her over.  Maybe there was a cookie emergency.  She went through the door, and Aya and I were left alone again in the empty café.

"I can't believe she knows who you are," Aya said to me in awe.

I shifted uncomfortably.

"I think it's creepy.  Who is she?"

Aya eyed me with a smile.

"See?  I told you she was an interesting character.  Do you believe me now?"

I nodded grudgingly.  Creepy or not, she had my attention.

"So what should we do now?  What if there are more people who know the other Miki?"

"I somehow doubt there's anyone else."

She sounded positive.  I chose to believe her.  The alternative was frightening.  Or at least a fraction more frightening than reality.

"I-" she started to continue, but Ochiai popped out of the kitchen and came back to our table.

"Apologies.  Cake emergency."

Well, I'd been close enough in my guess.

"Frankly, at first when you didn't come here for a few weeks," Ochiai continued as though there had been no interruption, "I thought things had broken down between you two.  Nothing was quite the same since that debacle a few years ago."

Of course I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was extremely curious as to what this "debacle" had been, and I was also a bit put off by the fact that Ochiai knew a little more about me and Aya than most people did.

I looked over at Aya questioningly, but she was looking at Ochiai with a pleasant but clueless face.

"What debacle?" she asked.

Ochiai looked at me and then back at Aya.

"The magazine article..." she said slowly, trying to jog Aya's memory.

Aya now looked confused.

"What magazine article?"

Ochiai looked at her, and then for the first time I saw a look of discomfort appear on her face.

"About Fujimoto-san's indiscretion."

My indiscretion?  Or more like the other Miki's indiscretion?  What had the other Miki done?

Aya's look turned slightly towards the negative side.

"What are you talking about?" she demanded.

What was going on?  Had Aya forgotten about something the other Miki had done?  Or did she not want to talk about it and was trying to convey that to Ochiai?

Ochiai looked at me again and then spoke.

"Tell me you don't remember about three or four years ago when Fujimoto-san appeared in Friday magazine and was revealed to be dating Shouji-san, the comedian, for quite a few months."

"Huh?!?"

Aya's outburst surprised me.  She yelled so loudly that the chef who had called Ochiai over earlier poked his head out of the kitchen door to make sure a robbery wasn't in progress.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

Indeed, I thought.

What had happened?  A comedian?  A betrayal?  A scandal?

Ochiai frowned deeply and then related to us an interesting tale.  Apparently the other Miki had been caught up in a dating scandal and had been fired because of it.  It all sounded ridiculous to me.  Why fire a girl for having a boyfriend?  I began to wonder why I had ever wanted to be an idol so badly in my youth.

"After that happened, you two met here and fought like vultures.  You both eventually stormed off.  I thought that was it.  I thought it was over for you two.  But about a month after Fujimoto-san had been fired, she came to me for help and advice.  Somehow you two started talking again and you repaired whatever had been broken."

Aya stared at Ochiai.  I wanted to reach over and shut her mouth for her.  It was hanging open like she was waiting to catch insects for lunch.

"You don't remember any of that?"

Aya managed a nod.

"Shouji-san?" Ochiai tried.

Aya shook her head.

"Doesn't ring a bell," she rasped out.

It didn't ring a bell in my mind either, but that was to be expected.

"Then I think our problem is a bit bigger than I originally thought," Ochiai muttered.

She sounded almost perversely happy about that.  I wished she wouldn't derive excitement from this situation.  This was my life being screwed up.  It wasn't a game or a TV programme.

A hundred questions ran through my head, most of them starting with "what the" and then descending into foul language.  Aya just sat there looking stunned.

"That never happened.  Miki never did that to me.  She never would.  Never.  Right?"

She looked at me as though I was supposed to know the answer.  I shrugged, which I think did no good to ease her mind.

"Forgive me for sounding strange," Ochiai said quietly, "but I think the three of us are from very different places."

By that she meant different worlds?  Dimensions?  Because that was a whacked out theory, but nothing explained it better.  Aya was from a world where we were happy together until she had to go on a three month business trip and Miki disappeared.  Ochiai was from a world where Miki cheated, Aya forgave, and things were put back together until Miki disappeared.  I was from a world where I'd met neither of these people - nor any comedian.

"How could this have happened?" I asked, taking charge.

Aya looked like she was going through some huge inner turmoil.  She wasn't looking at either of us.

"I can't even begin to guess," was Ochiai's unhelpful answer.

"Ochiai-san, how did we meet?" Aya asked suddenly, interrupting us.

"Here in the café.  You've been a regular for quite a few years now."

"And did we talk much?"

Ochiai tilted her head to the side in thought.

"Not until after the scandal.  Up until then, we chatted about the weather."

Aya nodded, pensiveness etched into every crease in the skin of her face.

"I just thought of something, Ochiai-san."

We both looked at her, but she kept her eyes trained on Ochiai only, not sparing me a single glance.  It made my stomach sink just a bit as an impending sense of doom came over me.

"How did I know your name?"

"Huh?" I couldn't help but say.

"You never learned it?" Ochiai asked curiously.

Aya nodded.

"I've chatted with you occasionally - enough to get a sense of your personality - but I never learned your name.  So how did I know your name?"

Aya and Ochiai stared at each other and I watched.

If Aya had no memory of learning Ochiai's name, then how had she been able to use it the night before to describe to me who we were going to meet?  It was knowledge that she didn't know she had.  Knowledge placed in her mind.

I had a thought.

"Could it be that, like, um..." I trailed off stupidly, unable to express myself coherently.

Ochiai eyed me with the same curious look that had been on her face the past minute.  Aya eyed me with a neutral expression.  I wanted to sink into the ground.

"Could it be like how everyone's been recognising me?  Somehow, somewhere, wires have been crossed and people like Shibata have had this information put into their brains without knowing it?"

What had seemed like a good theory in my mind sounded so stupid spoken aloud that I couldn't believe I've been the one to say it.  However, Ochiai seemed to like the idea.

"That's one way to think of it," she said thoughtfully.  "But the question of how it came to be still stands, as well as why the three of us seem to be a little different."

Nobody knew.  Nobody knew because it was a messed up, impossible situation that only belonged on television and in dreams.

"Hey Aya-chan," I said softly.

She looked at me.

"What do you think?" I asked her, seeking her opinion.

I had come to rely on it.  On what she thought.  Now we needed her thoughts more than ever.

"I think..." she mumbled.  "I think I want to go home."

I blinked.

"Okay," I said.

Ochiai took out a pen and wrote her name, phone number, and e-mail address on a pad of paper that she took out of nowhere.  She slid it over to us.

"I think we'll need to talk some more later."

Aya nodded blankly, took the paper, and put it in her purse.

"Let's go," I said, standing up.

She stood up quietly and we said goodbye to Ochiai.  I told her we'd come back soon.  She saw us off to the door.

The train ride home was deathly silent.  Aya looked concentrated, and I didn't want to say anything out of fear.  We got back to Aya's apartment, and I sat on the couch while Aya went off to her room to do something.  When she came back, she saw me just sitting here and then went to the kitchen.

"You hungry?" she asked.

Surprised that she was talking to me, I turned around.

"Yes."

She asked nothing else and went about preparing lunch.  I didn't dare offer to help.  I could tell she was in a foul mood.  I didn't criticise her cooking technique when she handed me a plate of lopsided onigiri.  I smiled, took a bite, and said it tasted good.

She remained seated on the floor and gave me no reply.

What the hell?  What did I do?  Why was she angry with me?  I suspected she was angry at me about what she'd found out from Ochiai, but that wasn't fair.  That wasn't me in the magazine.  That wasn't me.

"Hey, Aya," I said with a bit of an edge in my voice.  "Why the silent treatment?"

She put her food down and looked up at me.

"I'm just thinking, okay?"

She spoke so defensively that it was obvious something was wrong. 

"You know, the stuff that Ochiai-san told us about was about someone else.  Not me," I reminded her.

I detected a bit of a twitch in one of her eyebrows.

"That other Miki - or other other Miki from Ochiai-san's world - is not me.  Okay?  She's another person."

I spoke maybe a tad too angrily, but I'd had enough of being associated with other people whether consciously or unconsciously.

Aya sighed and picked up a half-eaten onigiri and studied it for thirty seconds.

"Do you think you could give me some time alone?"

She may as well have started chanting in Yiddish.  I might have been less surprised. 

Time alone?  That meant "get out" in a polite way.

I had done nothing wrong.  Absolutely nothing wrong.  And I was being kicked out of the only place I had to stay.  Out into the cold of the streets.

I considered my possibilities.  I could start arguing with her, but then where would that leave us?  I probably wouldn't want to stick around afterwards if we argued viciously.  I could beg for forgiveness, but I couldn't bring myself to do that when I'd done absolutely nothing wrong.  I could try and talk to her in a level-headed way... but if the person I was talking to was being unreasonable, I'd turn unreasonable, too.  I could do as she asked and just walk out.  Find somewhere to stay.

I chose the last option.  Without finishing my lunch, I stood up, grabbed a few things of mine, and walked to the door.

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

I slipped on my shoes and jacket and walked out.  I hadn't seen or heard her move from her seat.  Obviously I'd interpreted her words correctly.

Stupid idiot Aya! I screamed in my mind.

Why was she such a child?  Why would she blame something like that on me?  Why did she have to keep thinking I was that other girl?  She'd promised me that that's not what she'd been doing, but she was.  She was doing it now as I walked down the hallway, my anger showering me like buckets of water poured from a balcony.

Once I got out of the building, I pulled my phone out.  It was past one o'clock.  It was cold.  I was miserable and pissed off.

I dialled up Kuniko.

She answered the phone screaming my name.

"Fujimocchan!!!"

I held the device a metre away from my head until the screaming died down.

"Are you busy now?" I asked before she could start with any pleasantries.

"You're so rude!" she scolded me.  "You could at least ask how I've been the past week."

"Are you busy now?" I repeated.

"No," she huffed.

"Where are you?"

"I'm shopping in Shibuya," she replied.

She was out in public and answering her phone like that?  How embarrassing.

"Are you alone?"

There was an excited pause for breath.

"Actually, I met this guy on Wednesday at a club and he promised he'd prove that he could go on a shopping date with a girl without falling asleep, so he-"

"Oh," I said, trying to keep the dismay out of my voice.

So much for hanging out with her.

She didn't carry on, however.  She stopped her ramble.

"Are you okay?" she asked quietly, turning serious.

I laughed bitterly in my mind.

"I've been better," I replied truthfully.

"Wait," she said, and I heard her speak to someone before coming back on the line.  "Come and meet me.  I just sent him home."

Now there was friendship.

"Thanks, Kuni-chan," I said gratefully.

"How long will you be?"

I looked at my watch.  I had to get to the station first.

"Twenty minutes."

"Good.  Meet me at the south exit."

I made a sound of consent, hung up, and picked up my pace, walking further away from the source of all my troubles and towards a person that at least didn't purposely blame me for someone else's idiotic mistakes.

The whole short trip to Shibuya I went through bouts of anger, sadness, and even guilt.  I couldn't believe I actually felt bad about something I'd never done.  I would never do something like that on purpose.  Maybe the other Miki had been sleepdating.  Maybe she hadn't been aware that she was going out with that guy...

I shook my brain free of such thoughts.  Why was I justifying some non-existent girl's unfaithful actions with such silly suggestions?  And why was she so important anyway?  It seemed the whole universe revolved around her.  Or around me.  Us.  Each world was defined in terms of what its Fujimoto Miki had done.  That sent shivers down my back.

Kuniko was standing right by the exit of the station when I got there.  She was holding three or four shopping bags and her cell phone and looking cold.  She was easy to spot because of it, and I smiled in relief as I walked over to her.  She watched me the whole time, studying my face and not reacting in any way until I stopped in front of her.  She gave me a knowing nod.

"Ice cream," she said as though a doctor prescribing medicine.

I nodded back with definite gusto.  Four degrees centigrade weather be damned.

"Ice cream."

And so we went for the time-honoured medicine for matters of the heart: chocolate ice cream.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Sevii on September 18, 2007, 05:48:06 PM
One - Ochiai IS god. I swear.
Two - I feel bad for both Aya and Fujimoto. Aya, because it feels like that she's just been backstabbed by this person she loves, and she gets to feel what Fujimoto went through not too long ago, having some weird 'alternate reality' blow up in her face. In her world, all she knew of was Aya<3Miki<3Aya, and then boom! Goddamn Shouji. I feel bad for Fujimoto because... well, it's NOT her. It's not her who chose to date Shouji, and yet, it seems like Aya is having a hard time getting over the fact that her Mikitan would do something like that to her.

Oooh boy, the angst.

And all three from different worlds..

Okay, Ochiai isn't God, OTN is. /cheer.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Gomaki on September 18, 2007, 06:59:39 PM
Oh wow!
That must be hard for Aya.... I can understand that Aya wants to be alone, but at least she could have said something to Miki...
Ah well^^
Nice chap, I enjoyed it :) ;)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Amarghetta on September 18, 2007, 10:01:30 PM
And you claim that you want to end this, with this kind of updates? Come on, it's like the whole deal is just about to start... XD

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on September 18, 2007, 11:15:46 PM
Oh man.  I can safely say that I didn't see that twist coming.  You really do like to connect all your stories together don't you?  Friday's Children was the only one that didn't technically get tied back into all the others.  And now it's packaged with all the rest. 

Oh I wanna know what is gonna happen next!  You better update soon!  *shakes fist menacingly*
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 19, 2007, 04:56:55 AM
Quote
JFC, remember that it's Miki's perspective.  She's making an estimate about Occhi's age (which would be in the early forties according to the timeline).
Early 40's? :?

Damn, all this time I've been picturing Ochiai-san as more of a grandmother-like figure (say around late 50's-early 60's). :mon sweat:




Quote
Aya was the first to react verbally.

"Excuse me?" she asked politely.

...

"About four months ago, I realised everything had changed.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but when you two didn't come here as usual, I began to pry.  I checked up some sources and discovered that your histories had changed.  Well, yours had," she said, looking at Aya and then looking at me, "but yours didn't even exist."
What the...Ochiai-san did know about the changes that happened, and she knew that these changes happened to BOTH Aya and Miki?  :shocked: 

Aya's reaction gives the impression that she's just as surprised as Miki is over the fact that Ochiai-san recognized the latter.  Considering the fact that this is the first time that Aya's been back to the tea-house since the other Miki first disappeared, there would have been no opportunity whatsoever for her to have discussed it with Ochiai-san.  She was up in Hokkaido soon after she found Miki missing, was there for two months, and since coming back has been busy hanging with Miki or working.  There's no way that Ochiai-san could have heard about this from Aya...so then how/why is it that she DOES know?


Quote
"She got here at the beginning of January, and at first it was okay, but-"

"It was never okay," I continued for her, wanting to tell my side of the story.  "From the moment I stepped off the train to go to Aya's place, people started to react strangely to me.  I've had people coming up to me and then apologising because they thought I was someone else.  I've had people staring at me with strange looks on their faces.  I've also had inexplicable encounters with people who had already judged me and have certain expectations of me.  I've made enemies with people I've never met before in my life.  I've probably received special treatment, too, because of who this other Miki is."
And here Miki finally gets to talk to someone other than Aya about how awkward it has been for her recently. 



Quote
It took me a month to turn to the gossip magazines and see what was happening with you.  What I saw were the usual ridiculous rumours, but what caught my eye was an odd reference.  You and your friend Shibata-san having done a tour together.  I don't consider myself an expert on your life, but I knew that had never happened.  Am I right?"

"Right.  It never happened!"

Aya sounded thankful.

"Well, at least what we know seems to match up."
So it would then appear that whatever it was that caused the whole world to turn upside-down like this only left Aya's and Ochiai-san's memories fully intact, while everyone else's was altered.  But why? Why just the two of them?



Quote
"Why do you think this happened?" Aya asked.

...

"I don't know," she started.  "I have no experience with supernatural phenomena.  Excuse me."

With surprising speed, Ochiai got up and walked over to the kitchen where a distressed man in an apron was waving her over.  Maybe there was a cookie emergency.

...

Ochiai popped out of the kitchen and came back to our table.

"Apologies.  Cake emergency."

Well, I'd been close enough in my guess.
:lol:



Quote
"Frankly, at first when you didn't come here for a few weeks," Ochiai continued as though there had been no interruption, "I thought things had broken down between you two.  Nothing was quite the same since that debacle a few years ago."

Of course I had no idea what she was talking about, but I was extremely curious as to what this "debacle" had been, and I was also a bit put off by the fact that Ochiai knew a little more about me and Aya than most people did.

I looked over at Aya questioningly, but she was looking at Ochiai with a pleasant but clueless face.

"What debacle?" she asked.
Ohshit, this links all the way back to the FRIDAY incident?!?!? :OMG:

So then what...maybe the universe made all this happen on purpose. The "other Miki" was made to disappear, but Aya was kept "whole", knowing that she would try and find her. Was this to let Aya and Miki have a second chance to be together?  Were they so "meant to be together" that the universe had to re-write history to ensure that "AyaxMiki" happened? :o

But if you look at it, even Aya wasn't completely unaffected.  Ochiai-san has memories of the FRIDAY incident, whereas Aya doesn't. Is the Love x ∞ universe a "re-write" of the universe seen in Friday's Children?  In both stories Ochiai-san is a trusted friend and pseudo-adviser to both Aya and Miki. As such, did the universe let her keep all of these memories so that she could help Aya and Miki from making the same mistakes that their other selves had done in the past?



Quote
The train ride home was deathly silent.  Aya looked concentrated, and I didn't want to say anything out of fear.  We got back to Aya's apartment, and I sat on the couch while Aya went off to her room to do something.  When she came back, she saw me just sitting here and then went to the kitchen.

"You hungry?" she asked.

Surprised that she was talking to me, I turned around.

"Yes."

She asked nothing else and went about preparing lunch.  I didn't dare offer to help.  I could tell she was in a foul mood.  I didn't criticise her cooking technique when she handed me a plate of lopsided onigiri.  I smiled, took a bite, and said it tasted good.

She remained seated on the floor and gave me no reply.

What the hell?  What did I do?  Why was she angry with me?  I suspected she was angry at me about what she'd found out from Ochiai, but that wasn't fair.  That wasn't me in the magazine.  That wasn't me.

...

"Do you think you could give me some time alone?"
Now Aya's the one with the "what if" feeling nagging at her.  This whole entire time, both before her disappearance as well as after she found her again in Hokkaido, there had never been a doubt in Aya's mind about how she felt about Miki, and about how Miki felt about her.

Until now that is. 

Ochiai-san drops this bombshell, and tells Aya that the way she remembers it, there was a point where Miki had eyes for someone else.  Now while the former likely doesn't know about how intimate the two of them really are/were, Aya DOES know, and as such hearing this is a big, devastating blow.  Miki had always been "the only one" for her, but evidently Aya was not "the only one" for Miki.  For the first time in her life, Aya has doubts about Miki, and she doesn't know how to deal with it.



Quote
Once I got out of the building, I pulled my phone out.  It was past one o'clock.  It was cold.  I was miserable and pissed off.

I dialled up Kuniko.

...

"Are you okay?" she asked quietly, turning serious.

I laughed bitterly in my mind.

"I've been better," I replied truthfully.

"Wait," she said, and I heard her speak to someone before coming back on the line.  "Come and meet me.  I just sent him home."

Now there was friendship.

"Thanks, Kuni-chan," I said gratefully.
It's good that Miki has Kuni-chan right now. This is the first time she's seen Aya like this, and the entire situation is just too overwhelming.  All this time, Aya has been Miki's rock. She's been the steady one, the unflappable one, the one constant in her recently confusing life that made absolute perfect sense.  But now Miki sees that Aya does indeed have a chink in her armour, and while she wants to help, Aya's refusal to accept it (more like her outright rejection of it) is frustrating and even hurtful.



Quote
Kuniko was standing right by the exit of the station when I got there. 

...

"Ice cream," she said as though a doctor prescribing medicine.

I nodded back with definite gusto.  Four degrees centigrade weather be damned.

"Ice cream."

And so we went for the time-honoured medicine for matters of the heart: chocolate ice cream.
Works for me.

Assuming she does, it's going to be interesting to see how Miki chooses to tell Kuni-chan what happened. It's going to be interesting to see what she includes and what she leaves out.  Curiously though, I find myself wondering about what Kuni-chan will say in response. She does, after all, know that Aya and Miki are "together". Will she just see this as simply some sort of "lovers' spat"? What will she say if Miki tells her the whole story about "the other Miki" and about the strange happenings that she's been experiencing recently?



Quote
There's lots more fun to come.  Lots of messed up rollercoaster fun.
I think I dropped my wallet on the second loop-de-loop. XD

Can we go again? :D


Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on September 19, 2007, 07:24:26 PM
Hey, you're back writing! I'll comment on the new chapters when I catch up ^^
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 20, 2007, 09:41:44 AM
JFC, it's actually kind of good that you pictured Occhi like that because her character is supposed to be wise beyond her years.  Means I did something right.  Hahaha!  But yes, she'd be in her early forties.  She mentions her age at the beginning of Chapter 4 of Why (http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11142.msg363358#msg363358), which would have happened a few years ago.

Hey, ChiruChaCha.  Please tell you you didn't predict perfectly what would happen.  That would scare me.  Sevii would have to call you god.

If I'm going to end it, Amarghetta, I'm going to end it with a bang.  So off I go to avoid menacingly shaken fists and to write more.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: g4rfield on September 20, 2007, 05:31:49 PM
OK, so I don't usually analyze or commenting by breaking down the chapter, but I feel like it has to be done for this particular chapter...and also cuz I was too lazy to do so before.  XD

"About four months ago, I realised everything had changed.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but when you two didn't come here as usual, I began to pry.  I checked up some sources and discovered that your histories had changed.  Well, yours had," she said, looking at Aya and then looking at me, "but yours didn't even exist."

ok, someone else had pointed it out, but I'll say it again Ochiai is GOD I tell ya, GOD! How come she think to check some magazines and to noticing something's weird happen is just beyond me.

Quote
"I mean," Ochiai continued slowly, "you're obviously different from the Fujimoto-san that I knew four months ago, but you're also obviously the same person.  I want to know how you got here.  How you met her."
Whooa, since when Ochiai, who's the observer from afar, get so nosy like that. Ah yes, she's from a different world, which I don't remember from which tale, I have to read up on those again to straighten out my jumbled memories.

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"And yet you still managed to convince her to come here?" Ochiai asked.
A good insightful line you got there Ochiai.  :whistle: Let them re-live the last night on Hokkaido. Hohoho....

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"Apologies.  Cake emergency." Well, I'd been close enough in my guess.
:lol:

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"Frankly, at first when you didn't come here for a few weeks," Ochiai continued as though there had been no interruption, "I thought things had broken down between you two.  Nothing was quite the same since that debacle a few years ago."
Debacle?? What debacle??!

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"Tell me you don't remember about three or four years ago when Fujimoto-san appeared in Friday magazine and was revealed to be dating Shouji-san, the comedian, for quite a few months."
Uh oh, I can sense the impeding doom to befall upon our dearly beloved Fujimoto-san. :badluck:

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"That never happened.  Miki never did that to me.  She never would.  Never.  Right?"
What the hell Aya?!! She wouldn't be able to answer that kind of a question. Aaah...I think the doom just got a liiitle bit closer to happening now.

Quote
By that she meant different worlds?  Dimensions?  Because that was a whacked out theory, but nothing explained it better.  Aya was from a world where we were happy together until she had to go on a three month business trip and Miki disappeared.  Ochiai was from a world where Miki cheated, Aya forgave, and things were put back together until Miki disappeared.  I was from a world where I'd met neither of these people - nor any comedian.
I agree. Truly whacked. My mind still can not connect the dots.

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"How could this have happened?" I asked, taking charge.
Good question Miki, I would like to know the answer as well.

Quote
"Could it be like how everyone's been recognising me?  Somehow, somewhere, wires have been crossed and people like Shibata have had this information put into their brains without knowing it?"
Yep and the person responsible for those wires are none other than the evil author, OTN!!  :hiakhiakhiak:

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"Do you think you could give me some time alone?"

She may as well have started chanting in Yiddish.  I might have been less surprised. 

Time alone?  That meant "get out" in a polite way.

I had done nothing wrong.  Absolutely nothing wrong.  And I was being kicked out of the only place I had to stay.  Out into the cold of the streets.
Miki's in the dog house now....or rather, she's a puppy that got kicked out  her owner's warm house. So sad.... Gambare Miki! :cool1:

Quote
I considered my possibilities.  I could start arguing with her, but then where would that leave us?  I probably wouldn't want to stick around afterwards if we argued viciously.  I could beg for forgiveness, but I couldn't bring myself to do that when I'd done absolutely nothing wrong.  I could try and talk to her in a level-headed way... but if the person I was talking to was being unreasonable, I'd turn unreasonable, too.  I could do as she asked and just walk out.  Find somewhere to stay.
This Miki surely is more mature than the disappearing Miki. If it was  the other Miki, she would have start a fight, lose the fight, stomped out of the house, got sick, and blame Aya from being stupid! While of course half of it was her own fault for not thinking her steps throughly. In short, what's different is their process of thinking.  :on lol:

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"Fujimocchan!!!"
How she didn't slaughter the girl for calling her such a cutesy nickname I would never know.

Quote
Kuniko was standing right by the exit of the station when I got there.  She was holding three or four shopping bags and her cell phone and looking cold.  She was easy to spot because of it, and I smiled in relief as I walked over to her.  She watched me the whole time, studying my face and not reacting in any way until I stopped in front of her.  She gave me a knowing nod.

"Ice cream," she said as though a doctor prescribing medicine.

I nodded back with definite gusto.  Four degrees centigrade weather be damned.

"Ice cream."

And so we went for the time-honoured medicine for matters of the heart: chocolate ice cream.

Dr. Kuniko in action. Ice cream indeed. I can see they both turn into this after the first bite--->  :stoned:

Since I'm loving this fic this much,  :mon lovelaff: you HAVE to continue it, shaken fists and all.  :mon determined: Update soon ne?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 20, 2007, 06:17:54 PM
JFC, it's actually kind of good that you pictured Occhi like that because her character is supposed to be wise beyond her years.  Means I did something right.  Hahaha!  But yes, she'd be in her early forties.  She mentions her age at the beginning of Chapter 4 of Why (http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=11142.msg363358#msg363358), which would have happened a few years ago.
Whoops, guess it slipped my mind.

:mon sweat:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on September 23, 2007, 03:33:02 PM
I have 2 things to say about this, both pretty foul but oh well: "HOLY CRAP" and "BIGGEST MINDFUCK EVERRRRRR"
Seriously, I think I need a diagram to get it right so let me do one and correct me if I'm wrong, please:

- 1st reality: Miki and Aya get to know each other in H!P and blah blah blah until the day Aya has to go to Italy. This is where Aya comes from.
- 2nd reality: Miki doesn't go to the audition thus she lives in Takikawa until Aya comes. This is where they are now(and where Miki comes from)
- 3rd reality: Miki and Aya get to know each other in H!P and blah blah blah, Miki gets to know Shouji, Aya forgives her, blah blah blah, until some point where Ochiai jumps from this reality to the second one. This is where Ochiai comes from.

So, if this is right, my question is, where are the people who had a familiar feeling towards Miki from? 1st reality, 3rd reality or a completely different one? Or they are not from other reality but just had the information put into their brains like Miki said?

As for the cheating issue, I think it's kinda unfair for Miki(although wtf Miki?! Your girlfriend asks you if you would cheat on her and you shrug? xD), but maybe Aya's going through all the "there's another me in some other reality" thing, or maybe she's thinking that if Miki cheated on her now she might not be able to forgive her. There must be a million things going through her head after their talk with Ochiai.

JFC, it's actually kind of good that you pictured Occhi like that because her character is supposed to be wise beyond her years.

Wow, I had pictured her kinda like a tarot card reader xD Well, not exactly, more elegant, but with long, somewhat greyish hair and that mysterious aura.
 
Hey, ChiruChaCha.  Please tell you you didn't predict perfectly what would happen.  That would scare me.  Sevii would have to call you god.

If I'm going to end it, Amarghetta, I'm going to end it with a bang.  So off I go to avoid menacingly shaken fists and to write more.

I wouldn't have guessed that in a million years, some idea of what the end of the story could be did cross my mind though, but I'm sure you'll ace up your sleeve somehow xD
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 23, 2007, 04:46:07 PM
^
So you're thinking that it's like, three different realities suddenly mixed and merged into one? Considering how Aya, Miki and Ochiai-san each have different memories of how things happened, it does kind of make sense.

Quote
So, if this is right, my question is, where are the people who had a familiar feeling towards Miki from? 1st reality, 3rd reality or a completely different one? Or they are not from other reality but just had the information put into their brains like Miki said?
My impression was that these people would be from the Miki's reality (i.e. the second one).  She never "made it big" with H!P yet they still had that feeling that they somehow knew her. In the other 2 realities Miki did make it to the auditions, so she would have been known to the public.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on September 23, 2007, 06:42:08 PM
^
So you're thinking that it's like, three different realities suddenly mixed and merged into one? Considering how Aya, Miki and Ochiai-san each have different memories of how things happened, it does kind of make sense.


More or less, yeah, but I see it more as if Aya(from the 1st one) and Ochiai(from the 3rd one) jumped into the 2nd one, where Miki was. But I get the feeling I'm forgetting something in all these realities mess so we better wait to see if OTN points out something we forgot.


My impression was that these people would be from the Miki's reality (i.e. the second one).  She never "made it big" with H!P yet they still had that feeling that they somehow knew her. In the other 2 realities Miki did make it to the auditions, so she would have been known to the public.


Yeah, that's what I thought too, but I'm curious about how they get the familiar feeling.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 24, 2007, 09:29:18 AM
Yep and the person responsible for those wires are none other than the evil author, OTN!!
Hahaha, wouldn't you just want to slap me if I included myself in these stories?

Your outline looks right, ChiruChaCha

...(although wtf Miki?! Your girlfriend asks you if you would cheat on her and you shrug? xD)...
That deserves a big fat LOL.  Oh, man.  That made me laugh so hard.  Just the way you mentioned it in a paranthetical aside.  :lol:  You're right.  Miki should have nodded and said "yes, I'd never do that!"

I think I described Occhi as a hippie-type person, so the tarot card reader image kind of fits for that, I think.

Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 24, 2007, 10:17:53 AM
Chapter 24

The ice cream was rich and creamy.  We sat and ate for a few minutes without talking and simply enjoying the heavenly taste of chocolate rolling off our tongues.  At almost eight hundred yen, there was no choice but to enjoy every bite uninterrupted by conversation of any sort, pleasant or otherwise.

I ate about half of my ice cream without a single negative thought, but when I put my spoon down, I began to worry about what to tell Kuniko.  There was no doubt that she was going to question me.  I couldn't very well tell her that her world was being invaded by extra-dimensional people who remembered history differently.  I needed a good story, but not a lie.

Kuniko finished three quarters of her ice cream and then joined me in putting her spoon down.  She put her hands flat on the table and looked at me.  I knew what was coming.

"Let's start from the beginning.  What happened last week?"

I sighed.  It was going to be an interesting journey.

"And no cutting corners.  Last time I saw you, I was helping Aya-chan drag your delirious butt from in front of a train station where you'd slept in a snowstorm.  Now I know you're not the brightest girl in the world," she said, and I glared at her, "but that's a really stupid thing to do."

"I was confused and sick," I mumbled in my defence.

"Sick in the head?"

"No!" I snapped.  "I was upset and didn't want to go home, but I missed the last train that would get me out of there.  I wanted to wait till the morning, but I kind of... fell asleep..."

She was right.  It had been very stupid of me to do that.

"So why were you out there?  What kind of fight did you get into?"

Here we go...

"I got upset because, uh, Aya-chan had these expectations of me.  She was trying to... I don't know.  Project her expectations on me by leading me around and making me do things she thought would give me her ideal final result.

"What kind of expectations?"

"Um," I started, taking another breath, "what to do with my life.  Where to go.  What to become."

Kuniko nodded and urged me to go on.

"She thought I'd move here and become some famous celebrity like her.  Or something like that..."

Kuniko let out a dry chuckle.

"Anyway, I got a little angry because I overheard her talking about me to a friend on the phone."

"What kind of stuff did she say?" she asked, now completely engrossed in my story.

I pushed a piece of hair away from my eyes and checked the backs of my hands for no particular reason.  The overheard phone conversation with Shibata had been strange.  It had scared me, but not as much as it had scared me when I had been told the full story.

"Just, um, about the way I could've turned out if things had gone differently in my life.  Not important.  The point is that she pissed me off, I stormed off, I slept outside, and I got sick."

"But you guys settled everything, right?" Kuniko asked, looking a bit confused.

Who could blame her for being puzzled?  Dispute after dispute.  One settled, another started.  That one settled, and then on to the next one.  It was becoming clear that there was something special and highly dysfunctional between me and Aya.

"Yeah, she explained everything, and I listened for once.  We sorted it out.  But I was sick in bed until a couple of days ago."

Kuniko made a sound of surprise.

"And you're already eating rich chocolate ice cream?"

I looked down at my ice cream and then at her with a blank expression.

"Yeah.  So?"

What did it matter?

"Never mind," she brushed it off.  "Now tell me what happened today before you called me."

This would be the tricky one.

"It's hard to explain," I said hesitantly.

"Try me," Kuniko smiled.

"No, really.  You won't get it."

"No, really.  Try me."

"Kuni-chan, I can't explain it to you," I said firmly.

"And if you don't try, I'll leave right now and make you pick up the bill," she informed me in an equally hard voice.

"Fine," I said in a clipped, polite tone.  "You see, Aya-chan is from a different dimension where I'm a celebrity.  This morning we went to an acquaintance of hers, who also happens to be from an alternate dimension, but different from the one Aya-chan's from.  In this acquaintance's dimension, the Miki there was a very bad girl who cheated on Aya-chan.  It was even on the news, although that was because in her line of work, she wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend.  So when this world's Aya-chan found out about the other Miki betraying the other Aya-chan, she got upset with me, and she asked me to give her some time alone, which meant to get out of her face."

Kuniko looked at me with a concentrated expression, ate a spoonful of ice cream, and then pushed her bowl away so that she could lean forward.

"So that other dimension's Fujimoto is a metaphor for... Aya-chan's expectations?  And this acquaintance of hers is someone who planted the ideas in Aya-chan's head?"

Not quite, Kuni-chan.  Not quite.

"Kind of."

"And so now Aya-chan - with all these ideas in her head - doubts just how good a girl you are?"

That part was fairly accurate.

"Uh huh."

She thought it through.

"You know, you could've explained it to me without the fancy sci-fi metaphor.  What are you?  Some kind of geek?"

"You're the one who plays that Pokemon game on her DS for three hours a day," I bit back, and she reached out and stabbed her nails into my forearm.

"Sh!" she hissed with an alarmed expression on her face.  "Everybody doesn't need to know that!"

I winced in pain and then smirked.

"So Koda-kun was telling the truth."

Kuniko's jaw dropped.

"What?  That bastard!  That was mean, Fujimoto.  Really, really mean."

"Hey, he seems to know a lot about you.  Have you guys ever thought of-"

"Yes," Kuniko interrupted quickly.  "And we tried, but we're totally not made for each other like that.  He's totally like my brother."

I nodded, glad about the change of subject.

"Wait," I said slowly, a smile spreading across my lips.  "Could it be that Koda-kun is one of the guys that you've-"

"Yes!" Kuniko cried out forcefully to shut me up.  "And never ever mention that again.  I've tried to repress that memory.  Siblings shouldn't do that kind of thing together, and I learned that he and I shouldn't either."

My worries forgotten, I sat there with a sly smirk on my face.  Now this was good gossip.

"And don't you dare tell anyone.  So help me if you do," she threatened.

Since she had a lot she could hold against me, I decided not to push her too much.  Who knew when she could snap and go nuts from the amount of teasing I did.

"But what about that guy you were with up until now?  You met him at a club, you said."

Kuniko's attitude changed quickly from frighteningly menacing to stupidly cheerful.

"I think I've found a good one," she gushed.  "We fell into this comfortable zone all morning.  No awkwardness at all."

"Then why'd you say you weren't busy when I called?" I asked with a puzzled frown and a laugh.

"Well, I always have time for you!"

Oh please, I groaned in my head.

"That's because you haven't been able to harass me for a whole week, right?"

She shrugged.

"Pretty much."

I rolled my eyes. 

"So what's he like?"

"Tall, handsome, cool," she replied with a sparkle in her eye.

"I bet he's a real geek who's into trains, or something," I snickered.

Kuniko turned her nose up at me.

"Believe what you want."

I smiled warmly and made amends.

"He must be pretty cool if you don't even need to defend him."

"But weren't we talking about you?" Kuniko interrupted our line of conversation, giving me a pointed look.

Oh, yes.  We had been.  But I didn't want to talk about it anymore.  I was having a good time trying to forget that Aya now hated me for something I hadn't done and had never thought of doing.  The distraction was exactly what I needed.

"How long are you supposed to stay out of her hair?"

I snorted.

"Who knows.  An hour?  A week?  Forever?"

"It's not fair," Kuniko huffed angrily.  "You haven't done anything wrong."

She could say it a million times over, and all I would be able to do was agree a million times over.

I nodded.

"... have you?" she tagged on timidly.

"Of course not!" I exclaimed immediately, offended.  "I've done absolutely nothing even close to wrong.  It's all in her head.  She's a crazy lady."

"I'll say," Kuniko nodded.  "Do you want me to call her and reason with her?"

I shook my head vigorously as she pulled her cell phone out.

"It won't do any good."

And then her cell phone rang.  It made Kuniko almost jump up from her chair.  It made me blink, but hardly anything could rattle me anymore.  Not with my mind being inundated with stories of alternate universes and celebrity Mikis that slept around.

Kuniko looked at the display screen and then looked at me nervously.

"Um, it's her."

Aya was calling Kuniko.  Just great.  She knew how to trace me anywhere.  I was too predictable.

"I won't answer if you don't want me to," Kuniko offered.

"Nah, you'd better pick up."

It would accomplish nothing for Kuniko to ignore her.

"It might not be about me anyway," I added quickly.

Of course it was going to be about me.  The timing was right.  She was probably going to ask Kuniko if she knew where I was.  Then she probably would want to know if I'd told her anything, and then maybe try to glean some information about me.  About how I acted when I went out with my friends.  About anything suspicious I did.  Stupid questions.

"Hello?" Kuniko spoke into the phone.

She waited a few beats.

"Have I talked to Miki-chan?" she repeated the question back to Aya while looking at me for guidance.

I shook my head and mouthed the word "no".

"No, I have not," Kuniko said as though reading a script in an obvious and exaggerated way.

I shot her a glare and she tried to fix it.

"Is she out and about?  I'm so glad to hear she's better!  I was so worried!"

You're overdoing it, I groaned in my head.

She stopped talking and listened

"So why didn't you just call her directly?"

She adjusted her reaction so that she sounded authentically puzzled.  She listened some more.

"Oh."

She listened some more.

"I'm sure if you just call her-"

But she got cut off.  Aya spoke some more.

"Ah, that is true.  This is hot-headed Miki we're talking about," she laughed.

The traitor!  I slapped her on the arm and she let out a sound of pain that she quickly muffled, but not before it had been heard.

"Oh, no," she laughed nervously into the phone.  "Just bumped into a blunt object.  I'm okay."

I continued to stare at her with an expression that told her I was not amused.

"Yeah...  No, I'm sure you can...  Good idea to wait, but not too long.... Yup... Bye bye."

She hung up and I waited for her report impatiently.

"She wants to talk to you."

"And?" I asked in exasperation when she didn't say anything more.

"Why am I caught in the middle of this?  Ah!" Kuniko cried.

"Stop being foolish.  What'd she say?"

"She just told me that you two got into an argument and that she wants to talk to you.  Since you're so irascible, she figured she'd wait for you to cool down a bit."

"Oh wonderful," I ranted.  "She's the one who acted all unreasonably angry, and then I'm not allowed to be pissed off.  It's an unfair double standard, I tell you.  Don't you think?  When she calls I'm going to give her a piece of my mind."

I looked to Kuniko for support, but she had sat back in her chair and was holding her ice cream, eating the last bits slowly.

"Well?  Don't you think?"

Kuniko looked up at me.

"I think you just proven her right."

Gah!  I wanted to grab a plastic hammer and rap her and Aya on their respective heads with it.

"Why are you taking her side?  You're my friend!"

Kuniko started to hum a tune.

"I don't know you.  La la la la."

"Kuniko," I groaned.

"Never met this person before in my life," she said, speaking to a waiter who was walking by us.

He was too professional to look at us oddly, but I'm sure he was wondering how much whiskey we'd had before coming over to his shop for ice cream.

"Come on," I whined, dropping my anger and turning desperate.

"Fujimocchan, when she calls, just give her a chance, okay?"

She spoke so seriously that I stopped playing around and nodded, mirroring her seriousness.  While I nodded, though, I wondered why I was receiving the "be nice" lecture.  Was my temper really that bad?  I supposed storming off into heavy snowfall and sleeping outdoors in the cold was rash and demonstrated a kind of pride that could be dangerous to my health.  But I hadn't done anything violent.  I hadn't hit anybody.  I hadn't wished death upon anything.  Although I was feeling at the moment that I wouldn't mind if Aya got hit on the head repeatedly with that imaginary plastic hammer.

I ate the remains of my ice cream in the silence we'd created and wondered when Aya would call, what I'd say to her, and, most importantly, what she'd say to me.

"What do you want to do after this?"  Kuniko asked.  "Retail therapy?  It solves all problems!"

I shook my head.  I'd taken up enough of her day.  It was time for me to do some more thinking, not shopping.

"No.  Why don't you call your date back?  I think I'll take off on my own."

"You're not going to sleep in a malaria-infested ditch tonight, are you?"

She gave me a scathing look that told me I should know better.  But stupid Kuniko.  Everybody knew that we didn't have malaria in Japan.

"If you don't have a place to stay, I've got room at mine."

"No, I don't plan on staying outdoors again.  Thanks for the offer," I replied warmly.  "I'll let you know later."

I had learned my lesson.  Feeling that burning coldness again was not something I wanted to do.

We paid for our ice cream and left the restaurant, shivering as the chilly wind nipped at our ears and cheeks.

"Mail me if anything interesting happens," I said with a wink as I saw Kuniko writing an e-mail to her date.

She laughed.

"Same with you."

I thanked her again for taking time out of her schedule to see me, and we said goodbye and parted.  She headed in the direction of the station while I wandered down a busy street heading away from the hub of Shibuya.  On the way down the street, a tall woman standing in front of a ramen shop eyed me curiously.  She seemed to be waiting for someone.  I shuffled by quickly.  I wondered if the other Miki had known her.

I reached a crossroad after ten minutes and took the emptiest looking of the streets.  I walked down it and turned on to an even emptier street.  I found myself in an unfamiliar residential area, but I kept walking.  If I stopped, I'd get cold.  I continued for forty minutes through rows of streets I'd never been to before.  It was after I walked by a police box when my phone rang.  It was Aya sending me a message.

Is it all right to call you now?

Oh, how much I wanted to ignore her.  But I couldn't do that.  If anything, I needed a place to stay that night.  I could get that with this phone call. Then again, she could have been calling to kick me out completely.  In that case, there was nothing I could do anyway and may as well answer to find out if that was true.

I sighed and sent back a thumbs up emoticon.  My phone rang soon after that.

"Mmhm?" I asked when I picked up.

"I'm sorry," she said.

I kept walking, my pace slowing down as the silence between us grew longer.

"That's it?" I asked eventually.

Oops.  A little too rude.  Oh well.  She deserved it.

"I shouldn't have thought those things."

"Yeah, it was a little..." I trailed off.

"A lot.  A lot stupid and unreasonable," she finished for me.

I said nothing, meaning I agreed.

"Come home?" she asked.

I stopped walking, turned around in the direction of the place I imagined her to be in, and waited a beat before answering.

"Okay."

Another few beats went by during which we hung up without another word passed between us.  I began to walk back to the police box to check the map and find the nearest train station.

When I got back to the apartment, I rang the doorbell instead of opening it with the key I still had.  Aya let me in and hugged me, apologising for treating me like I'd done something wrong.  She said that it had been a shock, and learning that Ochiai was from a different world, too, had exacerbated her confusion.  She had needed some time to come to the terms with everything.

Of course I forgave her.  Maybe because I wasn't able to stay angry at her for long.  She cast a magic spell on me that weakened me in front of her.  Maybe because I was just plain stupid and didn't mind being hurt over and over again.  I took care to reassure her that I was smarter than the Miki of Ochiai's world and that I would never do something so careless and insensitive (if I was awake, but I didn't remind Aya about that).

One could not say that I wasn't relieved that I'd been cleared of all crimes.  But I wasn't completely at ease.  Would this happen again?  How many more times?  And with whom?  I wasn't just concerned about Aya, but also about everyone around me.  I would be so miserable if I got fired for something someone else did.  If I lost my friends for no good reason.

Down in my stomach, at the bottom of my heart, and at the back of my mind, I just didn't know how much more of it I could take.  This world.  This situation.  It was becoming too much for me, and my strength was starting to break.  I tried to remind myself about how I felt when Aya had told me about all her troubles, discovering her Miki didn't exist and putting her career on the line to go searching.  I tried to steel myself against all the strangeness and do like Aya had done by plunging forward into the unknown.  But I couldn't.  Not when she was being so unreliable.  Not when I'd given up life with my family to move to a city of strangers.  Even my closest friends couldn't help me because they didn't know my problems.  It sometimes felt like I had nobody I could trust implicitly.

I had no choice at the moment, however, but to keep on going and try to make sense of my life.  So with that in mind, I told Aya it was all okay and that I wouldn't hold this against her.  We tried to return to our normal lives, but something remained askew in my mind.  I wanted to fix it, but try as I might, I couldn't think of a way.  I would have to think a little harder.
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: Novaforever on September 24, 2007, 12:29:05 PM
Awww Miki is such a pushover when it comes to Aya.  Aya could have a mood swing, accuse Miki of murder, get her sent to jail and then show up with a smile and say, "whoops my bad,"  and Miki would just come running back.  And it doesn't even matter what universe Miki is from either.

Also, don't take that idea and write a story where Miki goes to jail for murder.  Cause you would write something depressing like that!
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: g4rfield on September 24, 2007, 05:52:21 PM

Down in my stomach, at the bottom of my heart, and at the back of my mind, I just didn't know how much more of it I could take.  This world.  This situation.  It was becoming too much for me, and my strength was starting to break.  I tried to remind myself about how I felt when Aya had told me about all her troubles, discovering her Miki didn't exist and putting her career on the line to go searching.  I tried to steel myself against all the strangeness and do like Aya had done by plunging forward into the unknown.  But I couldn't.  Not when she was being so unreliable.  Not when I'd given up life with my family to move to a city of strangers.  Even my closest friends couldn't help me because they didn't know my problems.  It sometimes felt like I had nobody I could trust implicitly.

Poor Miki! She must've feel lonely. At least Aya had Shibata who understands the situation, but Miki had no one. Well, telling Kuniko is one step forward IMO. Now, all she needs to do is convinced her that it wasn't a fancy sci-fi metaphor. I think Kuniko will be able to understand...after the initial freaking out I guess!  XD

I had no choice at the moment, however, but to keep on going and try to make sense of my life.  So with that in mind, I told Aya it was all okay and that I wouldn't hold this against her.  We tried to return to our normal lives, but something remained askew in my mind.  I wanted to fix it, but try as I might, I couldn't think of a way.  I would have to think a little harder.

Why do I have the feeling that a lot of angst are about to happen from here on?  :fainted: Cuz you wouldn't let things be stable for more than one chapter, that's why!  :frustrated: I might not be able to sense which way you're storyline gonna go, but I can sense the doom and gloom ahead....aaah dammit! I shouldn't jinx it, you would totally do it!  :banghead:
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: ChiruChaCha on September 25, 2007, 12:38:08 PM
So how much until a black hole absorbs it all after a parallel universe paradox?(That's how the story ends, isn't it? xD)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: JFC on September 26, 2007, 04:08:02 AM
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The ice cream was rich and creamy.  We sat and ate for a few minutes without talking and simply enjoying the heavenly taste of chocolate rolling off our tongues.  At almost eight hundred yen, there was no choice but to enjoy every bite uninterrupted by conversation of any sort, pleasant or otherwise.
800 Yen? Exactly how much ice cream are they eating here? :O



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There was no doubt that she was going to question me.  I couldn't very well tell her that her world was being invaded by extra-dimensional people who remembered history differently.  I needed a good story, but not a lie.
Well, she could just simply say that she and Aya got into an argument and that Aya wanted "to be alone" for a while...but then Kuni-chan would likely try and find out what it was about/what was behind it in the first place. 



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"Let's start from the beginning.  What happened last week?"

I sighed.  It was going to be an interesting journey.

"And no cutting corners.  Last time I saw you, I was helping Aya-chan drag your delirious butt from in front of a train station where you'd slept in a snowstorm.  Now I know you're not the brightest girl in the world," she said, and I glared at her, "but that's a really stupid thing to do."
Harsh words, but true. And remember Miki, Kuni-chan just says them because she cares about you.



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"I got upset because, uh, Aya-chan had these expectations of me.  She was trying to... I don't know.  Project her expectations on me by leading me around and making me do things she thought would give me her ideal final result.

"What kind of expectations?"

"Um," I started, taking another breath, "what to do with my life.  Where to go.  What to become."
When you boil right down to it, from Miki's perspective, this is basically what's been troubling her ever since she moved to Tokyo.  As crazy as she is for Aya, she wants to live her life on her own terms, doing what SHE wants to do because SHE wants to do it. She doesn't want to be lead around on some type of leash and be made to fulfill other people's expectations.



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"Now tell me what happened today before you called me."

This would be the tricky one.
That's putting it mildly. Can Miki really trust Kuni-chan enough to tell her the REAL truth?  One senses that she wants to, but is so scared that she won't because the story is just so outrageous.



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"You see, Aya-chan is from a different dimension where I'm a celebrity.  This morning we went to an acquaintance of hers, who also happens to be from an alternate dimension, but different from the one Aya-chan's from.  In this acquaintance's dimension, the Miki there was a very bad girl who cheated on Aya-chan.  It was even on the news, although that was because in her line of work, she wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend.  So when this world's Aya-chan found out about the other Miki betraying the other Aya-chan, she got upset with me, and she asked me to give her some time alone, which meant to get out of her face."
Wow, Miki actually told the truth...and she managed to keep it all straight while she did it too.



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"So that other dimension's Fujimoto is a metaphor for... Aya-chan's expectations?  And this acquaintance of hers is someone who planted the ideas in Aya-chan's head?"

Not quite, Kuni-chan.  Not quite.


"Kind of."

"And so now Aya-chan - with all these ideas in her head - doubts just how good a girl you are?"

That part was fairly accurate.

"Uh huh."
Huh. Looks like Kuni-chan thinks that Miki couldn't tell her outright, and that so she instead did it in this "story".  Well...the important thing is that Kuni-chan knows the gist of what happened, regardless of what she thinks of the way Miki told her.



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"You know, you could've explained it to me without the fancy sci-fi metaphor.  What are you?  Some kind of geek?"
Considering how Kuni-chan was able to accurately interpret it so quickly, wouldn't that make her a geek too? :D



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"You're the one who plays that Pokemon game on her DS for three hours a day," I bit back, and she reached out and stabbed her nails into my forearm.

"Sh!" she hissed with an alarmed expression on her face.  "Everybody doesn't need to know that!"

I winced in pain and then smirked.

"So Koda-kun was telling the truth."

Kuniko's jaw dropped.

"What?  That bastard!  That was mean, Fujimoto.  Really, really mean."
BUSTED! XD



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"Hey, he seems to know a lot about you.  Have you guys ever thought of-"

"Yes," Kuniko interrupted quickly.  "And we tried, but we're totally not made for each other like that.  He's totally like my brother."

I nodded, glad about the change of subject.

"Wait," I said slowly, a smile spreading across my lips.  "Could it be that Koda-kun is one of the guys that you've-"

"Yes!" Kuniko cried out forcefully to shut me up.  "And never ever mention that again.  I've tried to repress that memory.  Siblings shouldn't do that kind of thing together, and I learned that he and I shouldn't either."
Kuni-chan hooked up with Koda? DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN this is good shit Miki's finding out.  :kekeke:



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"But weren't we talking about you?" Kuniko interrupted our line of conversation, giving me a pointed look.

Oh, yes.  We had been.  But I didn't want to talk about it anymore.  I was having a good time trying to forget that Aya now hated me for something I hadn't done and had never thought of doing.  The distraction was exactly what I needed.
Yeah, mentally and emotionally the distraction is good for Miki. If she keeps brooding over this thing with Aya it's going to drive her nuts, especially since the issue right now is something that Miki can't really do anything about. It's something that Aya has to deal with herself,



Quote
And then her cell phone rang.  It made Kuniko almost jump up from her chair.  It made me blink, but hardly anything could rattle me anymore.  Not with my mind being inundated with stories of alternate universes and celebrity Mikis that slept around.

Kuniko looked at the display screen and then looked at me nervously.

"Um, it's her."
Kuni-chan has a very special relationship going on with both Miki and Aya. Since (other than Shiba-chan) she's the only person who is friends with the both of them AND who knows what their relationship is really like...it makes sense that both would seek her out as a friendly ear.   Especially now with Aya having doubts about Miki, Kuni-chan seems like she'd be the perfect person to talk to in order to get advice or a second opinion, since she works with Miki and is probably the only other person to know her quirks and personality as well (if not better, in some ways) as Aya does.



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"She just told me that you two got into an argument and that she wants to talk to you.  Since you're so irascible, she figured she'd wait for you to cool down a bit."

"Oh wonderful," I ranted.  "She's the one who acted all unreasonably angry, and then I'm not allowed to be pissed off.  It's an unfair double standard, I tell you.  Don't you think?  When she calls I'm going to give her a piece of my mind."
Honestly, both of them are probably angry right now, but for different reasons.  But yelling at Aya the first chance she gets isn't going to help Miki one bit.



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"Fujimocchan, when she calls, just give her a chance, okay?"

She spoke so seriously that I stopped playing around and nodded, mirroring her seriousness.  While I nodded, though, I wondered why I was receiving the "be nice" lecture.  Was my temper really that bad?
It's not that Miki's temper is bad, but more that she's a passionate person. When she likes you, you know she likes you. When she's pissed off, you know she's pissed off. Combine that with the fact that she has a bit of a to "jump, then look", and it makes it hard to have a serious talk with her sometimes.  Kuni-chan's right. Miki needs to give Aya a chance to explain herself, and with any luck Miki just overreacted a bit.



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I thanked her again for taking time out of her schedule to see me, and we said goodbye and parted.  She headed in the direction of the station while I wandered down a busy street heading away from the hub of Shibuya.  On the way down the street, a tall woman standing in front of a ramen shop eyed me curiously.  She seemed to be waiting for someone.  I shuffled by quickly.  I wondered if the other Miki had known her.
Even if/when Miki and Aya have their little talk and come to an understanding...Miki will still have to deal with this "being sort of recognized" thing.  It's something that will still continue to weigh on her mind, particularly with what she and Aya knows about the career of "the other Miki."



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When I got back to the apartment, I rang the doorbell instead of opening it with the key I still had.
Ouch...it's like Miki doesn't feel like the apartment is "home" anymore. It's like she's gone back to how things were when she first moved to Tokyo and she was unsure if she was really welcome. I wonder if Aya picked up on that, did she notice that Miki rang the doorbell instead of just using her key? It's like she's asking for permission to come it. Does she need to ask that, Aya?



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Aya let me in and hugged me, apologising for treating me like I'd done something wrong.  She said that it had been a shock, and learning that Ochiai was from a different world, too, had exacerbated her confusion.  She had needed some time to come to the terms with everything.
So then, has she come to terms with it? Is this something that will continue to trouble Aya, or can she put this behind her? It was a different Miki, and a different Aya after all. 



Quote
Of course I forgave her.  Maybe because I wasn't able to stay angry at her for long.  She cast a magic spell on me that weakened me in front of her.  Maybe because I was just plain stupid and didn't mind being hurt over and over again.  I took care to reassure her that I was smarter than the Miki of Ochiai's world and that I would never do something so careless and insensitive (if I was awake, but I didn't remind Aya about that).
Yeah, probably a good idea to not bring that last bit up again.



Quote
One could not say that I wasn't relieved that I'd been cleared of all crimes.  But I wasn't completely at ease.  Would this happen again?  How many more times?  And with whom?  I wasn't just concerned about Aya, but also about everyone around me.  I would be so miserable if I got fired for something someone else did.  If I lost my friends for no good reason.
Miki almost sounds like she's questioning if she did the right thing in moving here to begin with.  If she had turned Aya down and stayed in Hokkaido, neither of them would have met Ochiai-san again and neither of them would have heard of what had happened with their "alternates" from her world.  Miki wouldn't have to be subjected to the lingering doubt and confusion that she feels when she sees people looking at/watching at her, and Aya likely would have eventually gotten on with her life and career as well.



Quote
I had no choice at the moment, however, but to keep on going and try to make sense of my life.  So with that in mind, I told Aya it was all okay and that I wouldn't hold this against her.  We tried to return to our normal lives, but something remained askew in my mind.  I wanted to fix it, but try as I might, I couldn't think of a way.  I would have to think a little harder.
Question is, is this something that can be fixed? If not, do Miki and Aya have the strength to persevere and continue living their lives together?
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 26, 2007, 11:53:42 AM
800 Yen? Exactly how much ice cream are they eating here? :O
Hah, not nearly the amount one would imagine for that price.  Maybe it's Godiva.  Everyone deserves an overpriced gourmet treat once in a while.

...don't take that idea and write a story where Miki goes to jail for murder.  Cause you would write something depressing like that!
Haha, it's because of you and your idea that I've fallen behind in this story.  It was worth it, though.  It was nice to have some silly fun.

So how much until a black hole absorbs it all after a parallel universe paradox?(That's how the story ends, isn't it? xD)
And destroy the whole world?  I think I'll use this ending instead of mine.  Thank you for the idea.  It's like interactive writing.  (Hahaha, of course I'm just joking!)
Title: Re: Restart (Love x ∞ Part II)
Post by: OTN1 on September 27, 2007, 11:25:11 AM
Chapter 25

I went back to work with joy.  Anything to keep me busy and distracted was deemed okay by me.  For those few hours I could chat with whoever shared my shift at the convenience store, I forgot that the world was screwed up.  Even working at U-Con had become easier.  Ohashi and Kuniko the Lesser had taken to avoiding me, something I did not mind at all.  Katherine had also been coming by my desk to chat more often, and she started dragging me down to the studio for twenty or thirty minutes when we both had spare time, giving me dancing lessons and offering me encouraging words.

I went out with Kuniko and some other friends twice, but both times I was recognised by people in the club and was a bit put off because of it.  One man insisted that he'd met me somewhere before.  When he couldn't place it, he'd sat down in confusion and tried to figure it out.  I had almost wanted to comfort him and tell him the whole story, but of course that would have been a preposterous thing to do.

Kuniko started dating the guy she'd met at the club.  She was tight-lipped about details, though, although we had not had much time to talk.  That was fine by me.  I'd crack her soon enough.  Besides, she promised she'd bring him along to the next gathering, so I waited patiently for that day.

Aya pulled through for me with the cooking course, and through a friend of hers, she got me enrolled free of charge in a cooking class that was held on Tuesday nights.  I had never taken a lesson in cooking, and found it to be very strict.  I had a feeling that I did everything wrong and angered everyone.  However, after class, our teacher, a middle-aged man by the name of Arai, came and praised me for doing an excellent job on my first day when the class had started a month ago.  I heard afterwards that he rarely paid any compliments to anyone, so part of me felt smug and proud.  The other part felt like a compliment hadn't been necessary and I would have stayed in the class regardless.

I hadn't gone back to see Ochiai since our first meeting.  I honestly fel