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Author Topic: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 15 (25/03/2020)  (Read 23648 times)

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 13 (2/02/2020)
« Reply #100 on: February 02, 2020, 01:21:55 PM »


Akane stirred awake, blinking at the light penetrating her eyelids from the large window panels of the hospital room. Stifling a yawn, she straightened up in her chair, feeling drowsy, her back hurting from the uncomfortable sleeping position. At the sensation of an object inside her hand, her gaze dropped to the cellphone she was holding, reading the text she never finished typing. Akane had no memory of falling asleep, but figured she shouldn’t be too surprised. She and Airi had been up on-and-off all night, uncapable of finding sleep after the tragic news.

Akane saw movement in her peripheral vision and she gazed up at once, watching in expectation the woman slowly waking up in the hospital bed. A small groan escaped Rena’s lips as she had even more difficulty than her adjusting to the bright morning light, her eyes fluttering several times in displeasure. Her tired, drawn features also betrayed her disorientated state and confusion, and it didn’t take long until her attention fell upon her. “A-Akane?”

“You’re awake.” Akane rose from her seat, pained to hear her voice sound so weak. She took her best friend’s hand in a gentle grasp. “How are you feeling?”

“Sleepy. What am I doing here?”

“Well, you were…” Akane began to speak, choosing her words carefully. “You were a little agitated and had to be hospitalized. They gave you a sedative, that’s why you’re feeling that way.”

“Why would they give me a sedative? Does Jurina know I’m here?”

Akane was at a loss for words, destabilized. She and Airi had been both shocked to learn about Jurina’s sudden death. She couldn’t imagine how Rena felt when the police knocked at her door to reveal the devastating news. When Akane heard Rena had been admitted to the hospital, she had rushed to see her, only to discover she had been sedated. The hospital staff let her stay by her side while she rested, yet warned her there was a possibility she might not behave in a coherent way when she woke up. Akane didn’t think too much about it, believing they were being overdramatic.

Rena’s reaction took her completely off guard.

“Why am I at the hospital?”

“Do you… remember what happened?” Akane asked cautiously, searching Rena’s face, only to receive a negative nod in reply. Her friend looked genuinely clueless and a mix of unease and pain swept through Akane’s chest at what she was about to say. “Yesterday, two police officers came to your house. Do you have any memory of that?”

“Two police officers?” Rena frowned at her.

Akane swallowed a nervous lump and squeezed her hand. “Rena… Something terrible happened yesterday and-”

“Is Jurina fine?”

Disarray entered Akane’s eyes. “There was a car accident. Jurina was seriously injured. She didn’t… She didn’t-”

“Stop it.” Rena pulled her hand away, anger burning in her eyes. “What are you telling me? Let me talk to Jurina. I want to see her.”

Akane was powerless; her friend wasn’t listening to a single word she was saying. Until now, she had tried to stay brave in front of her, but she couldn’t take it anymore. Her lips trembled; her mask slipped. “R-Rena, I’m so sorry.” She laid a tentative hand on her arm, tears gathering in her eyes. “I’m so sorry for what happened. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. I’m here for you. I will help you go through this. I promise I won’t leave your side.”

“You’re not making any sense!” Rena sat straight up and threw the bedcover aside, getting out of bed. “I’m calling her and going home.”

“W-What? No, you’re still weak and disoriented,” Akane stammered, surprised by her outburst. “You shouldn’t get out of bed.”

“I’m perfectly fine,” Rena said in a decisive tone, her unsteady steps proving otherwise as her fingers searched frantically her vest’s pocket.

“P-Please, listen to me.” Akane stretched out her arm towards her shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” Rena slapped her hand away angrily. “Where’s my phone?!” She looked wildly around her. “It should be in my vest!”

Akane’s eyes widened in shock.

The bedroom door slid open, revealing a young female nurse. “Is everything alright?” Her tone was calm and gentle as she entered the room. Her gaze fell on Akane at first, then drifted to the woman wearing a hospital gown. “Matsui-san, you’re under medication. It’s not wise to get out of bed so soon.”

“I-I don’t want to sleep…” Rena’s voice dropped to a weak murmur and she stumbled backward, unbalanced. “I want… I want to see my wife.”

Akane rushed to help her, but the nurse had already made it to Rena’s side. “I understand, but it’s for your own good.” The nurse held Rena by the arm, stabilizing her. “Let me help you lie down.”

A small upset look plastered Rena’s features, but she didn’t oppose any further resistance, holding on the nurse for support as she made her way back to the bed. As she placed her head on the pillow, the nurse infused a sedative in the IV bag, the effect immediate as Rena’s pupils closed without her consent and she fell in a deep slumber.

“I tried to explain her what happened, but she wouldn’t listen.” Akane faced the nurse, a wave of despair washing over her.

“This kind of news can be harder to handle for certain people.” The nurse gave her an understanding look. “Your friend needs more time to process it. Please don’t worry. We’ll keep her under observation as long as needed.”

The nurse left the room, leaving Akane conflicted. She drew her attention back to her best friend, watching her sleep. She looked so calm and peaceful, as if lost in a pleasant dream, but Akane knew it wouldn’t last eternally. Soon or later, she would have to open her eyes and face the truth she refused to accept.

“It’s already been two days. Natsuki keeps asking questions and I don’t know what to say anymore.” Airi said over the phone, keeping an eye from afar on the two little girls playing together in the living room. She drew in a deep breath, mustering up every ounce of courage she could summon for what she was about to suggest. “Do you think… I should tell Natsuki the truth?”

I don’t know… Akane’s voice sounded insecure on the other side of the line. I think Rena should be the one to tell her, but…

“She’s still in denial?”

She spends most of the day sleeping. When she finally wakes up and a doctor or I try to mention it, she shuts everyone out.

Airi pulled a chair and took a seat, discouraged by the news. She opened her mouth to reply, but was interrupted by a voice calling her from the living room. She glanced up, meeting Natsuki’s hopeful expression. No words left the little girl’s lips, but Airi had no difficulty guessing the question on her mind. For the umpteenth time, she shook her head negatively at her, a sad smile grazing her lips as she faced the little girl’s disappointment. 

Was it Natsuki?

“It was,” Airi lowered her voice, not missing the way Shizuru read the atmosphere and tried to cheer up Natsuki, distracting her with a new game. “Each time she sees me on the phone, she thinks I’m talking to her parents.”

There was a long-tensed pause.

Airi buried her face in her hands, a little desperate. “I can’t imagine what Rena is going through, but there has to be a way to help her.”

The doctor mentioned one… But I don’t know if Rena is ready.

“If something ever happened to you, I don’t know how I would…” Airi couldn’t finish her sentence. The simple thought of it made her stomach sick. “I know you don’t want to make her suffer. God, it’s the last thing I want too. But I don’t think… I don’t think refusing to face the truth is going to help her come to terms with what happened.”

There was another silence.

I know… You’re right. I’ll talk to the doctor again.

Airi didn’t miss the exhaustion in her wife’s voice as they exchanged last words of affection. She hung up the phone and redirected her attention to the living room, observing the two little girls lost in their own little world. There was a certain innocence to the scene, as Natsuki was back to smiling and laughing in Shizuru’s presence, but Airi wasn’t deceived by her behavior. At such a young age, mood swings were recurrent in a child, passing from feelings of sadness or anger to being cheerful again in a flash. But it didn’t mean Natsuki was naïve or oblivious. She was old enough to realize something was wrong.

Rena stood quietly, her eyes darting back and forth between Akane who was helping her put a coat over her hospital gown and the male doctor waiting by the door. “Am I finally going home?”

“I’m sorry, Matsui-san. Your current medical condition doesn’t allow us to discharge you. But I’m hopeful you’ll be able to go back home soon.”

The doctor’s enigmatic words puzzled her and she glanced back to her best friend, but she avoided her gaze. Rena didn’t have the opportunity to speak; the doctor had already opened the bedroom door, leading them outside. Rena grimaced in pain, her head aching at the sudden bright light attacking her pupils and the noise surrounding her. Her body was numb, her brain muddled and she was forced to wrap an arm around Akane’s as they walked down the corridor.

They entered an elevator, Rena’s confusion arose when the floors numbers changed and they reached the underground floors. “Where are you bringing me?”

Rena was destabilized when her question was met with silence. She gave her best friend a side glance, sensing her nervousness. The doors opened and they stepped out of the elevator. They were crossing a new corridor, when Rena abruptly stopped walking. “I don’t want to be here. Bring me back to my room. I want to go home.”

“There is something we first need to do. I promise we will bring you back to your room after,” the doctor said softly.

For the first time, Akane looked her straight in the eye. “This is for your own good. We have… We have to do this.”

Rena went stiff and a bad feeling swept over as she perceived the pain, but mostly guilt reflected in her best friend’s eyes. Akane gently held her by the arm and guided her as they approached an oversized unmarked metal door. The doctor asked them to wait and went through the door, reappearing with a hospital male attendant. “My colleague will walk you through from here.”

Rena entered and shivered at the sudden drop in temperature. She paused, studying the new room they had walked in. On her right, was a small empty waiting room. On her left, were aligned three white doors, two of them labelled with a number.

“Matsui-san, please come with me,” the male attendant addressed her. Rena hesitated, her gut instincts humming with burning insistence to not follow him. Akane gave her an encouraging caress on the shoulder          and she followed him until they faced the door labeled number 2. The male attendant was about to open, when Rena looked over her shoulder, realizing Akane had stayed behind in the waiting room.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Akane said, but her words did little to reassure her. Her friend was calm, but her discomfort palpable.

“Matsui-san, please take all the time you need.” The male attendant opened the door, leaving it ajar. “I’ll be right here if you need me.”

Rena brought her attention back to him; the atmosphere became more and more tight. She didn’t know how long she stood unmoving in front of the door. She was conflicted between her curiosity to discover what was on the other side, and a small voice taunting her at the back of her head that she should flee this place as soon as possible. She forced her feet to move forward and she pushed the door at last, hearing it being shut close being her as she entered.

The air fed her heaving lungs and beating heart as she saw the lifeless body of her wife lying on a trolley, silhouetted by a maroon blanket.

Just the head and shoulders were showing; the rest was hidden underneath the sheet. Her eyes were closed; all the color had drained from her face. There were small bruises and cuts all over her skin, but her face showed signs of having been carefully cleaned up. Rena lifted a shaking hand to her pale face, touching her cold cheek. The contact provoked an electric shock within her. Her brain had blocked everything until now, but reality was impossible to ignore any more.

Tears blinded her eyes and choked her voice. “J-Jurina…”

She watched her lifeless face, her fingers trembling as she reached for her hand underneath the sheet. Rena felt dizzy and sick at the cold contact, vaguely registering the feeling of a hospital band around Jurina’s wrist. Her attention got caught by a small table she hadn’t noticed until now. On top of it laid a few personal belongings she recognized. Amongst them some clothes, a broken umbrella and a wedding ring.

Rena crumbled inside and could hold the heartbreak no longer. Her hand gripped her chest as an indescribable pain sprang from her inner being. She screamed as she fell to her knees and her grief poured out in a flood of uncontrollable tears. The door opened and two arms embraced her, but she found no comfort in her best friend’s embrace. Rena tried to look away, to forget, but the lifeless body was a persistence of vision she couldn’t erase. Jurina, her beloved wife and mother of her child, was dead.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 06:53:48 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

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

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

Offline Bukiyou Taiyou

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 13 (2/02/2020)
« Reply #101 on: February 09, 2020, 06:59:10 AM »
It must be very hard for Akane to see her bestfriend in so much pain like that. And it’s not easy for Airi too to hide the truth from poor little Natsuki.

Quote from: Sophcaro
She glanced up, meeting Natsuki’s hopeful expression. No words left the little girl’s lips, but Airi had no difficulty guessing the question on her mind. For the umpteenth time, she shook her head negatively at her, a sad smile grazing her lips as she faced the little girl’s disappointment.

This broke my heart.

And that moment when Rena finally saw with her own eyes that her wife dead, it was just too sad. :pleeease:

Offline 0jyuri

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 13 (2/02/2020)
« Reply #102 on: February 09, 2020, 05:58:22 PM »
Wah! I don't know a fanfic could break my heart apart like this.....

Offline facarous

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 13 (2/02/2020)
« Reply #103 on: February 09, 2020, 11:58:20 PM »
Hi, Sophcaro.
This chapter is full of difficult times.
I must say with total sincerity, that my heart has broken ... and I am sure that there are still more sad moments to come!!  :cry: :cry:

I think there are many forms of pain described in this chapter:
 Churi's pain who has not only lost Jurina, but she has to see Rena fall apart and know that she must stay strong to help her friend.
Airi on the other hand, must pretend that everything is fine in front of Natsuki. I am sure that it must be very difficult to see the girl's face knowing that her world is about to change forever. It must also be difficult to listen to Churi's suffering on the phone and not be at her side to comfort each other. Not to mention what she must be feeling for Rena´s pain.
And Rena ... my God, Rena. She just lost her life partner. I can't imagine what something like this must feel like.
I think the tactic used by the doctor was cruel, but necessary. She must get out of denial and face reality for her own sake and for Natsuki's.
Now I just wait for the moment when happiness returns to this story.

Excellent work, as always, Sophcaro.
 Even in its sad moments, your stories are something worth reading.  :jphip:

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #104 on: March 01, 2020, 02:05:34 PM »


Airi retrieved a glass from the cupboard and placed it next to the napkin and pair of chopsticks on the food stray, stealing a worried glance at Akane who was cooking. At this late time of the day, the house used to be full of life and filled with conversations, but their routine had been abruptly disrupted. These past few days, a heavy atmosphere enveloped each of their evenings. While Shizuru and Natsuki watched television in the living room, their female domestic robot, Alice, prepared dinner with the rigor and dedication she was famous for. In fact, the latter went on with her daily chores as usual and didn’t seem too disturbed by the recent arrangements in the organization of the household.

But not the same could be said for the other occupants of the house. Airi witnessed on a daily basis how Akane was affected by the decline of Rena’s health and mental condition. When was the last time she saw her wife smile or laugh? Airi couldn’t recall. As for their daughter Shizuru, it was a hard task to keep the truth from her. She kept asking questions. To know why Natsuki and Rena were living with them. To know why Jurina hadn’t showed up once since their arrival. Shizuru didn’t understand the situation, but was clever enough to realize her parents were hiding things from her.

Akane turned the burner off and poured the soup in the four bowls on the table, filling at last the bowl on the food tray. As she leaned down to carry the food tray, Airi reacted on instinct and held her arm. “Let me do it tonight.”

They exchanged looks in silence. A mixture of emotions flashed through Akane’s eyes – confusion, surprise. She gave her a weak nod of consent. “It will be alright.” Airi gave her arm a gentle squeeze, wanting to restore hope and confidence in the future. “We will go through this. Together.”

Akane’s eyes locked into hers. “I can’t handle seeing her like this. She’s my best friend. I want to help her any way I can. I just… I don’t know what to do anymore.”

Airi saw her insecurity. Her despair. Her sorrow. “I know.” She leaned over and planted a kiss on her cheek. “Rena is a strong person. Right now, she’s going through a difficult phase, but she will overcome this. I know she will.”

A faint smile played across Akane’s lips. She didn’t add anything after that and Airi knew they wouldn’t speak of the subject anymore.

Airi left the kitchen and climbed the stairs leading to the upper floor, cautious not to spill the content of the food tray. As she approached the guest room, she felt a twinge of anticipation, fearing how her arrival would be received. Following Rena’s discharge from the hospital, Akane had drove her back to her house, but the outcome was a disaster. Rena didn’t have the energy and emotional capacity to take care of herself, breaking down each time her gaze fell upon the single remembrance of her deceased wife in the house. It had only taken Akane and Airi a short discussion to make a decision. That same evening, Akane brought Rena to live with them.

Airi passed the bedroom door, not surprised to find the lights off and the curtains closed. She squinted, letting her eyes get accustomed to the darkness. Her gaze fell upon the bed, undone but empty. Airi moved forward and laid the tray down on the table, switching the bed lamp on. The light slowly brightened until it flooded the room, the walls, the furniture, and the body curled in a corner of the room.

After two weeks, Rena’s physical frailty had reached a preoccupying stage. Rena was dressed in her pajama, her general appearance sloppy, her hair disheveled. Her face was as pale as death, her lips parched and crackled. She had an empty gaze, her eyes swollen and puffy. Despite the food presented to her three times a day, each food tray was returned barely touched. Rena spent all her days secluded in her room, alternating between sleeping and crying when she thought no one heard her.

Airi’s heart sank, still not accustomed to such a terrible vision. This person huddled on the floor, silently hugging her knees close to her chest, didn’t look like her friend. She bore no resemblance with the proud and confident millionaire CEO she had worked aside and known for so many years. Both she and Akane did everything in their power to be of moral support after the tragedy that had struck, but their efforts didn’t seem to pay off and have any positive effect on her.

Airi kneeled in front of her, murmuring. “I brought you dinner.” She received no response and laid a tentative hand on her knee. “Rena?”

The physical contact stirred her up. “Thank you.” Rena stared back at her with a blank look. “But I’m not hungry.”

Airi felt despondent and frustrated by the rejection. “I know, but you have to eat. Akane and I are worried about you. Think about Natsuki. She wouldn’t want to see you like this.”

At the mention of her daughter, Rena’s eyes filled with tears. “You think I’m a bad mother, don’t you?”

“Of course not,” Airi protested, caught off guard. “You are in pain and grieving. We love you, Rena. We will take care of you and Natsuki as long as necessary. But we want to help you go through this. So please. Promise me you’ll eat something?”

Airi feared her plea to be futile. Her friend was avoiding her gaze and didn’t look inclined to comply. Airi hesitated, acknowledging the tricky situation. She didn’t wish to show too much insistence; it would only push her friend to withdraw even further into her shell. She waited and stroke her arm, whispering a few words of comfort. She repeated the process, waiting, hoping to witness the slightest sign of change. She didn’t want to leave the room with another sense of failure.

At last, she caught Rena’s attention. Her lack of enthusiasm was showing, yet Airi’s patience was rewarded with a small, unconvinced nod. It wasn’t much, but enough to elevate her spirit. She helped her get up from the floor and they took the direction of the table. The meal went on in silence. Airi stayed by her side the whole time. Jurina’s absence resonated in every one of them and she couldn’t imagine the pain Rena was going through. However, after tonight, her chest filled with hope at the small step she achieved.

“The prince reached the tower where the kidnapped princess was imprisoned. Without warning, his horse stopped with his head high, ears forward, body rigid. The prince began to soothe the animal with a caress on the neck, but the horse refused to move forward, stamping his feet in displeasure. The prince stared in front of him and reached for his sword, sensing the danger.  Suddenly, a mournful howling sound could be heard. His jaw dropped in shock at the threatening green dragon that appeared in front of him. The prince felt a cold shiver run down his spine. He heard the storytelling of a dark creature invoked by the king, but refused to believe it. Today, he was going to fight his greatest enemy.”

Natsuki gasped and watched, wide-eyed, the dragon projected by the hologram, searching in the darkness for Shizuru’s hand. At the physical contact, Shizuru tilted her head in her direction, reading the terror plastered all over her friend’s face. Alice, her domestic robot, kept on narrating the story, projecting in Shizuru’s bedroom images of the brave prince fighting the dragon with all his might, the special effects coming from the hologram making the fairytale extremely realistic.

“After a fierce battle, the prince planted his sword in the belly of the beast. The earth trembled as the defeated dragon collapsed and expired his last breath. The prince, exhausted and severely injured, dragged his feet forward and marched ahead. He arrived at the bottom of the tower, his progress coming to a halt when a field of thorns developed and grew by magic, preventing him from accessing the front door. The prince’s bloodied arm trembled and he raised his eyes to heaven, devastated by the new obstacle. Was fate against him? When would his misery come to an end?”

“No!” Natsuki let out a frustrated scream. “Why can’t the prince be reunited with the princess already? Why??”

“I-I’m sure he will,” Shizuru said, taken aback by her outburst. “Let’s listen to the rest of the story and see what happens nex-”

“No! I don’t want to! Enough! Enough!”

Shizuru stared at her, complete surprise on her face. Her friend rose from the bed, agitated, refusing to spare another look at the hologram. Shizuru went silent, not knowing what to say next. Deep concern washed over her. Natsuki was on the verge of tears. “Alice…” She forced a smile and addressed hesitantly the robot who had paused the story. “Could you please… leave us alone?”

“Yes, Miss Shizuru,” the female robot said with a slight bob of her head. “Don’t hesitate to call me if you need anything.”

Shizuru followed her robot’s retreating form as she left the bedroom and redirected her attention to Natsuki. Since she began living with them, she hadn’t been the same. Shizuru had questioned her parents about it, wishing to know what was happening, but all she managed to learn was that she and her mother would be staying with them for a little while. Under other circumstances, she would have been overjoyed by the news. She loved spending time with her best friend. Nothing made her happier in the world. But everything had changed two weeks ago.

During their conversations, Natsuki almost never smiled. Every interaction with Alice, the family’s domestic robot, darkened her mood even more. Shizuru knew how affected Natsuki was by Alfred’s terrible fate. She didn’t understand either herself how come he had stopped functioning. But it wasn’t the only absence in her life that caused her friend so much pain. During family meals at 4, Shizuru didn’t miss the dejected look Natsuki would give the two empty chairs.

Shizuru gave a small tug at Natsuki’s hand. She was relieved when she didn’t reject her and came to sit by her side on the bed. In the past, Shizuru adored teasing and showering her friend with gestures of affection. A kiss on the cheek or a spontaneous embrace, often received by her shy friend with an embarrassed blush. However, this evening, when Shizuru laced their fingers together, her only objective was to bring her comfort. She suddenly had a flash of intuition. “Why don’t you go and see your mommy?”

Natsuki glanced up at her, startled. “But… Auntie Akane and Auntie Airi said I can’t.”

Shizuru tried to remain calm and think rationally, but her frustration at the situation bubbled under the surface. “I know and I think it’s silly. She’s your mommy! It makes no sense! You want to see her, no?”

She got a timid nod in reply.

Shizuru’s eyes twinkled. “Let’s go!” She stood on her feet and pulled on Natsuki’s hand. “Follow me. I know where her bedroom is.”

A flicker of hope brightened Natsuki’s bleak expression. “I-It would be disobeying. What if your parents get upset with me?”

“Who’s going to tell them? I won’t,” Shizuru said confidently and kissed her gently on the cheek. “I promise. It will be our little secret.”

Rena tossed and turned in her bed for the umpteenth time. Would tonight be another night of torture? She hated the nights when she couldn’t sleep, her brain filled with memories of Jurina and her tragic death. Rena stared up at the ceiling. What time was it? It was hard to tell. She vaguely remembered Airi’s visit and taking a bite of the dinner she brought, the food feeling tasteless and bland on her tongue. She lost all appetite a long time ago. Rena was aware of the sleeping pill on the bedside table, ready to put her out of her misery. The temptation was high.

Sleep all day and forget? Or stay awake and have her days and nights filled with visions of the one she lost? The thought brought a lump to her throat and her eyes moistened. Her everyday life had never been the same since she crossed path with Jurina. She brought her a joy and sense of fulfillment her job never managed to accomplish. How could she go on with her life without her by her side?

All these years, she had become so dependent on her love, support and presence. Her heart wasn’t only broken into pieces. When she discovered Jurina’s lifeless body at the morgue, she also lost a part of herself. She felt paralyzed all day, detached from everything around her. Her emotions seemed to have disappeared; she felt physically and mentally drained. She was empty, like a cold shell, vacant.

At the sound of a small knock on the door, she hurriedly brushed away a lonely tear. Tears came so frequently and effortlessly. She prayed they would stop falling for once. She hated offering such a pitiful state of herself to her friends. Rena sat up in bed, frowning as she checked out the alarm-clock. A little over 10 p.m. Dinner had already been served. Had she been crying too much?

Air caught in her lungs when the person she expected the least appeared. Natsuki, her 5-year-old daughter, was standing on the doorstep. Rena grew rigid. She turned pale and clutched the bedcover. Shock. Disbelief. Fear. She had an agreement with Airi and Akane. She made them promise to not let Natsuki enter her bedroom under any circumstance. So what was her daughter doing here?

Rena followed her progress inside the room. Don’t come closer! she wanted to scream. She needed to stop her. She couldn’t witness her mother in such a bad condition. So why weren’t the words coming out? Natsuki paused once. And twice. She hesitated. She was afraid of being scolded. Rena could see it written all over her face. That’s when Rena realized she couldn’t prevent this reunion from happening. Of course, Natsuki missed her. She missed seeing her as much as she did. Tears sprang to Rena’s eyes and slid down her cheeks. When did she last lay eyes on her daughter? Days? Weeks? Her brain failed to come up with a single response. She lost all notion of time.

Natsuki came to stand beside her bed and, slowly, step after step, climbed onto the bed until they faced each other. Rena couldn’t breathe, let alone speak with the knot forming in her throat.

Natsuki’s fingers lightly touched her cheek. “Mommy is sad too…”

Rena shivered. “Y-Yes, mommy is sad.” She tried putting on a brave face to appear in control, but the sound of her voice breaking betrayed her true emotions. “Mommy… is not feeling well.”

“It’s because mama is not here?”

Rena could only nod by the affirmative.

“Where is mama? Why don’t you tell her to come back?”

Rena felt tears rising again but battled them back. She reduced the distance and wrapped her arms around Natsuki, pulling her close. “Honey…” Rena said hoarsely. “Mama… Mama is not coming back.”

“Why?” Natsuki leaned back, looking straight into her eyes. “I want to see mama… Where is she? Tell her to come home. Please. Please!”

Rena heard Natsuki’s intake of breath as a sob caught in her throat and saw tears streak down her cheeks. She embraced her in a tight hold, feeling her stomach churn at her daughter’s heartbreaking distress. It tore her heart to hear her cry. She needed to tell her the truth, but it was beyond her capacity. She couldn’t find the strength to utter the words out loud. “I know you love your mama. I love her too. But she’s not… She’s not coming back. It’s just the two of us now.”

“No!” Natsuki tore herself away from the embrace. “She promised we would always be together! What did you do?! It’s your fault! I hate you!”

Natsuki’s face had hardened; her eyes burned with anger and resentment. Rena didn’t have time to reply. Without another glance, Natsuki jumped off the bed and stormed out of the room.

Rena was left shocked and shattered.

Her heart clenched with pain, but she didn’t hold it against her for her harsh words. She was the only one to blame; she had handled the situation in such a terrible way. Rena felt more powerless and desperate than ever, before coming to the realization that it was probably for the best. Maybe she should let Natsuki believe she was the reason why Jurina left. How could she bring herself to tell her daughter that her dear mama - the one she admired, praised and loved more than anyone in this world - had died in a cruel car accident? Rena’s own sanity was already hanging by the thinnest of threads. The idea of destroying her daughter’s fragile innocence with the truth was too unbearable to consider.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 06:55:32 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

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

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

Offline 0jyuri

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #105 on: March 01, 2020, 08:08:59 PM »
Oh my god. This is just too sad especially for rena.
This is just too depressing. Rena heart had fall to pieces when she
heard natsuki says she hate her.

Offline Rena-chan Daisuki

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #106 on: March 07, 2020, 07:56:28 AM »
Just wanna F***!
Like before i already expect what's gonna happen (prepared for the death and how Rena in denial *chap 13), but this... this i didn't expect and totally reach the feels like hard (almost tear up).
Good Job Sopcharo-san, just know that i always read your story even though i didn't reply. Always my favorite Author. Hope one day you could make your original novel and i will def read it!


Offline daph

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #107 on: March 07, 2020, 12:11:29 PM »
really good fic !! :twothumbs :twothumbs
i was wondering if you were French since some words you use reminds me of the way French people talk. If you are, will you consider writing in French ? :roll :grin:

Offline facarous

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #108 on: March 10, 2020, 06:41:56 AM »
Hi Sophcaro
From the moment Jurina had that unfortunate accident, I have not stopped repeating myself over and over again, an old refrain that says that it's always darker before dawn.

In the last three chapters, my heart has broken again and again. That's thanks to the extraordinary form in which you write.  :jphip:
All the scenes were overwhelming, but definitely the last one manages to squeeze the heart with greater force.

"Mommy is sad too ..." that dialogue hurts.  :cry: :cry:

I knew that the encounter between mother and daughter would be sad, but that didn't stop it from hurting.
I don't like the way Rena is thinking. It seems she prefers Natsuki to blame her instead of telling the truth. In the end that will cause more damage for both of them. :( :cry:

It's a shame that we met Alice in these circumstances, I couldn't help wondering how her interaction with Alfred would have been ... I miss Alfred so much! And obviously also Jurina.

Thank you for this chapter. I know that although things are sad and gloomy now, you have a great plan for this fic. I know it!!
« Last Edit: March 10, 2020, 04:44:22 PM by facarous »

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020)
« Reply #109 on: March 17, 2020, 06:30:20 PM »

>> Thanks to 0jyuri, Rena-chan Daisuki, daph & facarous for taking time to drop a comment. It means a lot to me :heart:

This is just too depressing. Rena heart had fall to pieces when she
heard natsuki says she hate her.

Like before i already expect what's gonna happen (prepared for the death and how Rena in denial *chap 13), but this... this i didn't expect and totally reach the feels like hard (almost tear up).

From the moment Jurina had that unfortunate accident, I have not stopped repeating myself over and over again, an old refrain that says that it's always darker before dawn.

In the last three chapters, my heart has broken again and again. That's thanks to the extraordinary form in which you write.  :jphip:
All the scenes were overwhelming, but definitely the last one manages to squeeze the heart with greater force.

Yes, it's a difficult/dark phase but to go through. There were no other option possible, with the tragedy that struck the characters. However, it won't last eternally. Things will progress forward very soon!

i was wondering if you were French since some words you use reminds me of the way French people talk. If you are, will you consider writing in French ? :roll :grin:

I'm curious to know what words I use make you think I'm French?  :shocked
About your question, I did consider it. At first, when I started writing my Heartbeat trilogy, my plan was to do it in French! However, French readers are limited in this fandom, and I knew I had to write in English if I wished to reach a larger audience. So to answer your question, I'm afraid the answer is no. I'm not planning on writing a fic in French anytime soon.

Good Job Sophcaro, just know that i always read your story even though i didn't reply. Always my favorite Author.

Thank you for this chapter. I know that although things are sad and gloomy now, you have a great plan for this fic. I know it!!

Thanks for trusting me with this story! I hope you'll keep enjoying it   ;)

« Last Edit: March 17, 2020, 06:36:06 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

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

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

Offline pengimyoui

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020) - REPLIES TO COMMENTS
« Reply #110 on: March 21, 2020, 05:30:21 AM »
i read this story on wattpad; nonetheless, it is just amazing *chefs kiss*. i'm so glad that people are still writing about the graduated members because they will leave a permanent mark on akb history  :wub: :wub: :wub: keep up the good work author! i'm looking forward to see what you'll be able to come up with later on :)

Offline Bukiyou Taiyou

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020) - REPLIES TO COMMENTS
« Reply #111 on: March 22, 2020, 04:45:26 PM »
I had a hope when Rena finally saw Natsuki, only to get my heart broken when Natsuki yelled at her 😭 I can't imagine how devastated Rena to hear what Natsuki said. She just lost the love of her life, and NOW her daughter is mad at her. It must be really...really...really painful for her :on cloudeye:

I'm happy that Rena at least still have bestfriends. Airi did her best, gently, to remind Rena that she had to be strong for her daugther. But Natsuki...why did you that to mommy? Don't you see she's sad tooooo?

Anyway, I just realised Akane and Airi had Alice. If Alfred came back to live, I hope there would a scene between those two loyal robots  :k-thrilled:

Thank you for writing, author-san...
« Last Edit: March 22, 2020, 04:51:57 PM by Bukiyou Taiyou »

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 14 (01/03/2020) - REPLIES TO COMMENTS
« Reply #112 on: March 22, 2020, 08:19:07 PM »
i'm so glad that people are still writing about the graduated members because they will leave a permanent mark on akb history

Yes, I agree! There are not many active writers still writing about graduated members, and as both a writer and reader, I'm always grateful when I stumble upon a new fic on my favorite pairing  :wub:

I had a hope when Rena finally saw Natsuki, only to get my heart broken when Natsuki yelled at her 😭 I can't imagine how devastated Rena to hear what Natsuki said. She just lost the love of her life, and NOW her daughter is mad at her. It must be really...really...really painful for her :on cloudeye:

But Natsuki...why did you that to mommy? Don't you see she's sad tooooo?

Well, we can't always expect a young child to act in a rational & logical way, right? Her words were mostly impulsive, and I'm sure she'll soon reconcile with her mommy  :yep:

Anyway, I just realised Akane and Airi had Alice. If Alfred came back to life, I hope there would a scene between those two loyal robots  :k-thrilled:

I can't promise you anything, but I'll keep your suggestion in a corner of my head  ;)
My WMatsui fanfics:

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

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

Offline sophcaro

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Re: Back in Time [WMatsui] - Chapter 15 (25/03/2020)
« Reply #113 on: March 25, 2020, 02:44:40 PM »


Two months later.

Rena walked into the entrance vestibule and retrieved her coat from the hanger, dressing up and slipping into her shoes. She shut her eyes close, as if to mentally prepare for what was to come. She felt a sudden shiver of apprehension. For the past two months, those visits had turned into a routine. Nevermind how fragile and shattered they always left her, for nothing in the world she would put an end to them. Rena was extracted from her thoughts by the sound of footsteps approaching. She took time to recompose herself and slowly glanced over her shoulder, making eye contact with Akane.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you?” Akane offered, conflicted. “I could come with you.”

“Thank you, but I already called a taxi,” Rena said, reminding her. “And you have to be at work in half an hour, remember?”

“I can afford to arrive a bit late,” Akane said, with gentle insistence. “I don’t have any important meeting this morning.”

“Arrive late? What would the CEO think of her chief operating officer behaving in such a way?” Rena said, attempting a light, joking tone. Her friend didn’t seem fooled by it. “Thank you, but…” she added in a weak murmur, a forced smile curving her mouth but not reaching her eyes. “I prefer to go alone.”

Rena saw her hesitating, her mouth opening and closing as if she wished to add something, but she didn’t say anything. Yes, she preferred being alone during those visits. Tears always fell with great ease, too hard to contain, and she refused to offer such a sight to her friends again. They had already witnessed her sorrow far too often for her liking. She wanted to retrieve a semblance of dignity.

When did she come out of her state of torpor and inactivity? It was hard to pinpoint the exact moment. At first, she went downstairs to share meals in common, returning to the darkness of her bedroom straight after. Progressively, she went out an hour, and two, slowly back to interacting with the other members of the household.

Alice, the family’s domestic robot, had been the easiest to start with. Rena didn’t feel ashamed to look like a mess in front of her. She patiently listened as Rena spoke. Her replies were always tainted with a certain innocence and naivety, characteristic of her robotic conception, but she never asked questions more than necessary. Rena felt comfortable in her presence; Alice was a simple but easy company.

Gaining confidence, Rena allowed herself to engage in conversations with Akane and Airi. A few minutes at first. As the weeks went on, it turned into an hour, then two. Conversations were light and trivial. Mostly non-important. But the renewed socialization enabled her to slowly come out of her shell. Shizuru, Akane and Airi’s quiet and good-mannered daughter, occasionally took the initiative to engage a conversation with her, mostly to share her everyday life at school.

The only person Rena hadn’t managed to interact with was her own distant daughter. During meals, Natsuki focused on her plate and barely said a word. When they found themselves in the same room, Rena sometimes caught her daughter staring at her. As soon as their eyes met, Natsuki looked away hastily.

Right now, as Rena finished preparing herself for her departure, and she observed the two children playing in the living room, her eyes suddenly locked with Natsuki’s. Rena distinguished a flicker of hesitation in her expression. These last few weeks, it wasn’t the first time she witnessed it. Her attitude had changed ever so slightly. She refused to talk to her, but the visual exchanges lingered, as if she was… torn? Yet, this time once more, the brief visual interaction ended as every previous one. Her daughter’s reproachful and upset look: Rena would never get used to it. And it made her heart clench in pain every single time.

“You should tell her the truth,” Akane said tentatively. “It’s not right… It’s not right to make her hate you for this.”

Rena took a deep, shaky breath. It wasn’t the first time she brought up this topic. “It would only make her suffer.”

“Because it’s best to let her believe her mama abandoned her? Don’t you think she could believe it’s her fault if she left?”

Rena’s eyes widened. “No, she wouldn’t…” she stammered, words failing her. “She believes it’s my fault. She wouldn’t think…” At Akane’s serious expression, the realization hit her. A pang of shame swept through her. Her wish was to protect Natsuki from the harsh truth, and she had been more than willing to put all the blame on herself. All this time, this eventuality hadn’t crossed her mind. 

Rena turned away, not wanting her friend to witness the indignant tears that threatened to come suddenly to her eyes. “I know I have to tell her the truth. Trust me, I do.” Her voice was husky with despair. Deep down, Rena was aware she couldn’t lie to Natsuki eternally. But how could she consider having this conversation when she felt herself breaking at the simple idea? “I just don’t know how…” With an effort, she lifted her eyes and gave Akane a pleading look. “I need a little more time. Please. I promise I’ll tell her.”

“Alright,” Akane said, offering her a sad but friendly smile. She wrapped her fingers around Rena’s palm and, feeling it shaking, gave it a light squeeze. “It’s fine. On your own terms. When you’re ready.”

Rena was secretly relieved when she didn’t insist, and turned on her heels. “Ah, wait!” Akane sounded urgent behind her back. “Before you leave, could you sign this? It completely slipped my mind.” Akane retrieved a digital tablet from her briefcase. “It’s for the launching of the new project. The board of directors approved it; it only requires your signature.”

Rena’s gaze dropped to the tablet Akane was handling her. She skimmed through the text and, without second thoughts, added her signature at the bottom of the page.

“By the way….” After a moment’s hesitation, Akane continued. “When are you planning on coming back to the office?”

Rena tried to hide her unease with a fake smile. “From what I’ve seen, you’re managing the company very well without me.”

“I’m doing my best to run it in your absence and I’ll gladly continue as long as needed,” Akane said, trying to sound reassuring. “But the board of directors have raised concerns. They are understanding of the situation, but they fear an impact on our partners and investors on the long-term.” She swallowed, and her expression turned apprehensive. “The last thing I want is to rush you into going back to work if you’re not ready. I hesitated a lot to mention this, but I can’t keep it to myself any longer. The board needs to be reassured, and my words have limited effect. I’m afraid only the CEO’s presence will manage to put them at ease.”

“I don’t know when I’ll be able to…” Rena’s voice trailed off weakly.

On a few occasions, Akane and Airi had suggested her to consider going back to work. They seemed inclined to believe that, the slow and progressive regain of an activity would do her some good. She had difficulty sharing their view on the subject. It already caused her great effort to leave the confinement of her bedroom. Even more to interact with others. She hadn’t hesitated to delegate the reins of the company to Akane, having no doubt it would be in good hands. Hearing the issues Akane was going through made her feel slightly guilty, fearing to have placed a heavy burden on her shoulders.

At the sound of her watch beeping, she read the message she had received. “The taxi is here. I should be back in an hour or two.”

“Take all the time you need,” Akane assured her. “I’ll drop Natsuki and Shizuru at school on my way to work. Airi has an appointment at the office this morning, but she’ll work from home in the afternoon. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask Alice if you need anything.”

Rena nodded silently and opened the front door, but couldn’t help stealing one last glance in the direction of the living room. She lingered on her daughter, attentive to her every move, watching her play with Shizuru. Pain tore at her heart at the deterioration of their relationship. When would she be able to be a real mother to her? When would she find the strength to confess the truth about her mother’s death? Despite the uncertainties placating her, Rena felt a twinge of reassurance. Natsuki wasn’t alone. In this household, she was surrounded by people who had undivided affection for her, especially an adorable friend by her side.

Matsui family vault.

Rena’s footsteps came to a halt, and she read the golden inscription carved into the black marble façade. Despite its majestic, imposing stature, the grand funeral building was located in a quiet, isolated area of the cemetery, preserving it from needless attention. Its Roman architecture, sharp contrast with the modern technology of Tokyo, was a direct influence from her great-grandfather’s legacy. Rena wasn’t a capricious child. She didn’t raise her voice in presence of adults. She always obeyed her father, following his instructions to the letter. At her great-grandfather’s passing, and her father suggested to reduce his body to ashes and place him into a cremation site, she refused to stay silent.

Her father and her great-grandfather didn’t get along. Their conflictual relationship went back to the time when she was a young child. Rena never got to learn the official reason behind their dispute, but as the years went by, and she became more attentive of her environment, she figured her father’s frequent infidelities, added to his lack of paternal love, were not innocent to it. In the professional field, no one could match Akihide Matsui’s pioneering spirit and talented skills as a business man. It had propelled Matsui Corporation in the top 10 companies of the country after one year of existence.

But not the same could be said of the father figure he represented. Rena had learned to grow up without a mother, and with limited contact with her grandparents. Raised by nannies, her education taken care of by knowledgeable but dull private tutors. Ignored by an absent father who gave more attention to his work and fleeting conquests, Rena was a smart but lonely child. Her only sources of happiness resulted from the times when her father, in his rare moments of leniency, allowed her to visit her great-grandfather on one of his archeologist’s sites.

Consigning her great-grandfather to oblivion in one of the dozens cold and soulless cremation buildings that abounded around the city was out of the question. She had spoken up, staking her claim, refusing to give up until he accepted to erect a site worthy of his heritage. To her surprise, the conversation didn’t turn as heated as she feared. Maybe her father had been caught off guard by the unexpected moment of rebellion. After a long silence, during which his expression proved unreadable, he had calmly stated it was a waste of money but agreed to her request, under the strict condition that she took care of all dispositions.

Rena didn’t let herself get discouraged by the challenge.

At the age of 15, Rena surrounded herself with the best in their field of expertise. She brought her input into the elaboration of the construction plans, and undertook the building of the family’s vault.

For a little while, Rena stayed in front of the entrance, feeling a sense of pride at what she had accomplished. After 15 years of existence, the vault still stood proudly, preserving the remains of the members of the Matsui family.

Extending her hand, Rena placed her palm flat on the rectangular panel located on the left side of the door. A light scanned her hand, and Rena saw her picture and name pop up on the screen. “Matsui Rena-san,” announced a robotic voice. “Authorization granted.” The door opened up, and Rena walked inside.

Over the years and the evolution of society in terms of robotics, Rena had taken the liberty to make a few changes to the original building. Securing the main access had been her main concern, followed by the customization of the interior’s design. The vault was divided into separate rooms, one for every family member, each space arranged carefully to allow visitors a proper time of reflection.

Rena had stopped counting how often she came to visit Jurina. Her knees weakened and her chin trembled at the sight of the coffin positioned in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath, trying to calm down, and progressed further inside. The walls were decorated on all sides with the virtual projection of a forest landscape, accompanied by the light rustle of wind in the branches, and the melodic chirping of birds. 

Rena wasn’t an adept of excessive technology, but she didn’t regret implementing those modifications. They contributed to create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere to the sad and cold place. Separating her from the white coffin, was a transparent glass window, secured by another control panel. Rena repeated the process and placed her hand on it, the quick scan confirming her identity, and allowing her to enter.

“Hello, my love.” Rena slid her fingers along the polished surface of the white wooden coffin. “I miss you. I miss you so much.” Her voice cracked; her eyes grew large and liquid. “But I guess you’re tired of hearing that week after week? You probably prefer if I tell you about my day? I’m afraid it will lack originality.”

Rena staggered a few steps away from the coffin and glass window, the door closing automatically at her passage. Feebly, she sat down in the chair behind her. Not taking her eyes from the coffin, she wondered when those conversations became a habit. The first time she passed that door in Akane’s presence, her insides had exploded into pieces, a wail of excruciating sorrow bursting from her throat at the sight of what remained of her wife. As seconds transformed into minutes, and her pain showed no sign of diminishing, her best friend hadn’t waited any longer to pull her out of the place.

The second visit hadn’t gone any better. Rena had taken the initiative to flee the room as soon as tears rolled down her cheeks. Airi, who had accompanied her, hadn’t said a word and drove her back home, but the renewed failed experience had left Rena devastated. A few weeks went by before she gathered the courage to make a new attempt. She could literally feel the anticipation emanating from Akane when the door slid open, almost as if she was ready to drag her out at any instant.

To Rena’s relief, she managed to stand on her feet without breaking down. With unsteady steps, she had approached the glass window, holding her tears as best as she could. She hadn’t been able to stay long, overwhelmed by emotions, but when she left, Rena realized the important step she had achieved. The following visits marked a further progress. Not only was she capable of going alone without Akane or Airi’s assistance, she had formed a sort of routine. Talking to Jurina for an hour about everything and anything. Somehow, those visits became less painful, even bringing her some comfort, almost as if Jurina was still present and hadn’t completely left her side.

Rena’s gaze drifted to the picture frame of her smiling wife and the digital tablet disposed on a small rounded table. The tablet contained a list of files, pictures and videos, memories uploaded by visitors. It was a way of honoring the deceased, transmit the memory of the one who had left this earth but remained in people’s hearts and minds. Friends, co-workers… So many had contributed to preserve Jurina’s memory, and Rena was almost sure to have viewed all of them.

During her visits, Rena often watched at least one video. The painful and complex nature of her relationship with her daughter pushed her to play one in particular. One of the videos that Rena had herself uploaded. “Play memory n°11.”

“Playing memory n°11.” A robotic voice repeated. The forest background dissipated on the opposite wall, giving way to the video’s projection.

“Come on, blow your candles!” Jurina, who was wearing a silly blue birthday hat, could hardly contain her enthusiasm, clapping in her hands. On the opposite side of the table was seated Rena, who was doing her best not to laugh at her wife’s childish behavior. As of Natsuki, she was positioned between them, staring with envy at the chocolate cake. Four white lit candles were disposed as a circle and surrounded a larger one in the middle, representing the letter 4.

As if preparing for a complex challenge, Natsuki’s expression grew serious. Leaning over the table, she inflated her lungs and exhaled, blowing out the candles. All white candles extinguished, but not the one in the middle. The flame wavered left and right, but didn’t go out.

“Ah, Natsuki didn’t blow hard enough,” Jurina said. Her teasing tone didn’t escape Rena’s attention. She exchanged a look with her, and understanding crossed her face at the mischievous wink she received.

“I did!” Natsuki glared at the rebellious candle. With a great gasp, she filled her lungs afresh and blew with all her might. The candle flame flickered, a smile of victory already playing on Natsuki’s lips, only to vanish when the flame didn’t falter. The candle flame stood proudly in the middle, unaffected by Natsuki’s second powerful but failing attempt. “No!! It’s not… It’s not possible!”

Natsuki stared at the cake with anger and frustration, and Rena decided to put an end to her misery. “It appears your mama played a trick on you and bought one of those old vintage candles, didn’t she?”

Natsuki’s eyes widened and she looked at Jurina in shock. “W-What does it mean! How do I blow it?!”

“You can’t.” Jurina’s face split into a wide grin. She reached for a secret switch behind the candle. The flame, that had given Natsuki such a hard time, extinguished by magic.

Natsuki’s mouth dropped open.

“Taste your birthday cake.” Jurina cut the cake and put a slice on Natsuki’s plate. “Your mommy baked it especially for you.”

“Y-You did?” Natsuki tilted her head in Rena’s direction, incredulous.

“Yes, I did,” Rena replied, finding her reaction entertaining. “Why do you look so surprised?”

Natsuki could not hide her embarrassment. “It’s just that mommy is always so busy.” She lowered her voice, fumbling for words. “I didn’t think she had time to…”

Rena didn’t feel offended. Her daughter was only stating the truth. As CEO of a major company, her high position required a lot of personal investment and charged her with great responsibilities. However, this job she loved also had its disadvantages. Amongst them, enough free time to spend with her family. “Yes, mommy works a lot.” Rena drew her chair closer and reached for Natsuki’s face, stroking her left cheek gently. “But Natsuki must never forget how much I love her.”

Natsuki blushed and nodded, smiling shyly.

“And I love you too!” Jurina exclaimed, and kissed Natsuki’s other cheek. “In an hour, aunty Airi and Akane will be coming over with Shizuru. I’ve been told your girlfriend has a special present for you.”

Rena shot her wife a slight disapproving look.

Natsuki went scarlet. “S-Shizuru is not my girlfriend!” Her gaze quickly dropped to her plate and she took a piece, lifting her fork to her mouth. She opened her mouth and tasted it, her whole face beaming with the liveliest, happiest smile.

Rena watched her eat her cake, the way she gulped it down in barely three bites, soon requesting another slice. Rena looked over the other side of the table, and exchanged a subtle look of amusement with Jurina. Rena didn’t hesitate to comply to her daughter’s wishes, cutting another slice for her. Natsuki ate the second slice almost as fast as the previous one, emptying her plate in no time. Natsuki turned in her direction and placed a spontaneous kiss on her cheek, and Rena felt the warmth of pleasure fill her chest. Each day that passed, she realized how fortunate she was to have such a wonderful family.

The video had some footage left, but Rena wasn’t paying attention to it anymore, tears blinding her vision. Those precious family moments reminded her of what she had lost, and how strongly she wished she could go back in the past. She got extracted from her thoughts by the sound of the front door beeping. Caught off guard, she swung around, a robotic voice refusing the entrance to the new visitor. A second attempt was made, only for the control panel to deny access.

Rena heard footsteps receding, and she hesitated. The fact that the visitor wasn’t granted access only meant one thing: their identity wasn’t recognized by the system. Curiosity getting the best of her, Rena stood up from the chair and moved towards the entrance. As she slid it open, the stranger faced her back. It was a long, dark-haired slender woman, dressed in a long brown coat and a matching pair of boots. She wore light makeup, and her lips were slightly red. Her whole appearance was quite elegant and graceful, and Rena figured she had to be in her late twenties.

“I’m sorry for the disturbance,” the woman said, bowing respectfully. “I hope it’s not inappropriate, but I was wondering if I could pay my respect to Jurina-san.”

Rena studied her, and tried to figure out who she was. One thing was certain: she wasn’t part of Jurina’s close friends and colleagues. Otherwise, she would have recognized her immediately. The woman didn’t give her a bad impression, and struck her as sincere in her intentions. After a short moment’s reflection, Rena gave her a nod of consent. “Yes, of course. Please come in.”

Rena lead the way, the woman’s hesitant steps following her. Rena entered and realized the video was still playing. She switched it off hastily. The frozen image of the happy family faded on the wall at once, replaced by the peaceful forest scenery. Rena stood at the back of the room, using the opportunity that the woman was approaching the glass window to observe her attentively. A multitude of questions piled up in her head, one more pressing in particular. Who was that woman?

“Where are my manners. I didn’t introduce myself.” The woman turned around, and gave her a half-embarrassed smile. “I’m Iriyama-san.”

“Matsui-san. A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Rena replied politely.

“Yes, I know who you are,” the woman said and, witnessing Rena’s confusion, added. “It would be hard not to recognize the face of the CEO of one of the top 10 companies in the country.”

“Right…” Rena murmured, feeling a little silly. “Sometimes, I forget anonymity is a luxury I can’t afford.”

The woman’s face became sober, and somewhat uneasy. “I want to express my sincere apologies for your loss.”

Rena’s features darkened. “Thank you, I appreciate your kind words.” She recovered quickly and smiled, but it just barely made it to her eyes. “Forgive me, but I don’t think we’ve ever met?”

“No, we haven’t. I lived abroad for many years, and came back to Japan recently. When I heard about this tragedy on the news… I could hardly believe it. Jurina-san and I didn’t part on good terms, but I knew I had to come and visit her. My eternal regret is that I’ll never have the opportunity to tell her how sorry I am for the pain I caused her.”

Rena was destabilized, unsure how to react to the confession. And what about the strange familiarity she had used to call her wife? For a while, they didn’t speak, and the woman redirected her attention to the casket visible through the glass window. “How… did you know Jurina?”

“We met in college. For two years, we studied in the same class. Until my actions caused our paths to drift apart,” Iriyama-san replied, with a sad undertone in her voice. “I was young and foolish, and hurt someone I truly cared about. It took me too long to realize my mistake and, once I did, Jurina and I had already lost contact. And now… Now I’ll never be able to ask for her forgiveness…”

She trailed off, and silence stretched between them for an eternity, before she added with a twinge of embarrassment. “I’m sorry for interrupting your moment of reflection. Once more, I want to express how deeply sorry I am for your loss. I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the video, and I can see you formed a beautiful family. I can’t even imagine the degree of your pain.”

Rena stayed quiet, noticing from her peripheral vision the other woman walking towards the exit. That’s when it clicked. “I know who you are.”

Iriyama-san tilted her head back. The look in her eyes betrayed her surprise.

“Jurina spoke about you,” Rena started, putting pieces of the puzzle together. “The way your relationship ended hurt her a lot, but…” Rena was a bit ill-at-ease broaching this particular subject, but kept on, wishing to convey as much honesty as possible in her words. “Eventually, she managed to move on and forgave you. She found happiness again.” Rena offered her a small, tentative smile. “She wouldn’t have wanted you to live the rest of your life with regrets, so I hope you’ll be able to forgive yourself and put the past behind.”

It was a long while before Iriyama-san summoned the composure to speak.

“Thank you. Thank you for saying that,” Iriyama-san replied, with a flare of emotion in her voice. “And yes, I can tell she was truthfully happy with you.” Her face softened slightly. “It might be difficult to hear such a thing during those times of hardship you’re going through, but once your sorrow will have decreased enough, I hope you’ll find a way to move forward and rediscover a taste for life.”

Those were the last words they exchanged.

Iriyama-san offered her a polite bow and withdrew from the room, her last words lingering in Rena’s mind.

It was 6 in the morning when Rena tiptoed out of her bedroom, careful to make as little noise as possible. The house was plunged in darkness when she walked down the stairs, and settled down in the kitchen for a light breakfast. The moment of quiet and solitude was the occasion to contemplate her decision. Fear and uncertainty crossed her features. What if she was going too fast and making a huge mistake?

The sound of feet clattering on the tile floor caught her attention and she looked up from her bowl of cereals. A pair of blue eyes were shining through the kitchen’s dim light and approaching her position. Rena lowered her gaze to the ground. Alice, the family’s domestic robot, was staring fixedly at her.

“You’re up early, Miss Rena-san. Is something wrong? Do I need to warn the mistresses of your presence?”

“No, it won’t be necessary,” Rena said, whispering back. “I have to go somewhere, but Airi and Akane don’t need to know about it yet.”

The female robot looked confused. “Mistress Airi and Mistress Akane need to be aware of everything that happens in the house. Not to mention, my role is to look over you. My mistresses were very explicit on that. I cannot disobey a direct order.”

Rena couldn’t help but flash a nostalgic smile. Alice’s sense of dedication and stubbornness reminded her of a special robot who used to share her daily life. It had taken her a little while to adapt to Alfred’s presence. Now that he was gone, Rena realized how much he had come to mean to her. Almost effortlessly, the adorable, helpful little robot had left his imprint in her heart.

“I thank you for taking good care of me.” At the memory of Alfred’s absence, Rena’s faint smile contained a note of sadness. “And you’re not disobeying any order. I was planning on leaving a note. Your mistresses will find it on the living room table as soon as they wake up and come downstairs.”

“Oh, alright.” Alice bobbed her head in agreement. “Thank you for this information. In that case, I can allow you to leave the house.”

Rena followed Alice’s retreating form as she retraced her steps back to her favorite stance by the sofa, the blue glow of her eyes slowly diminishing. Rena redirected her attention to her unfinished breakfast, and brought a spoonful of cereals to her mouth. Putting aside her brief encounter with her morning visitor, a knot formed in Rena’s stomach. She didn’t know if she was ready, but she had to see for herself.

It was raining. Of course, it had to be, Rena cursed the droplets of water hitting her face when she stepped out of the taxi and arrived at her final destination. The weather was fine when she left her friends’ house, but it appeared misfortune decided to strike her. A few months ago, she would never have trusted the weather forecast, and systematically brought her mini collapsible umbrella each time she left home. Her carelessness left her both bewildered and slightly ashamed. 

“Matsui-san, please take shelter.”

Rena’s heart skipped a beat when she heard a male voice addressing her from behind, soon seeing an umbrella above her head. She spun around to look at him, her features slowly relaxing when she recognized the male guard. “N-Nakamura-san. I didn’t expect to see you. What are you doing here so early?”

“I always start work at 6 am, Matsui-san,” the guard replied, in a tone of mingled calm and politeness. 

“Oh, that’s right…” Rena showed some uneasiness and hesitation. Was her brain so muddled from being cooped up at home that she couldn’t remember the work schedule of one of her employees? “Tell me. Has… anyone arrived at floor 22?”

“Fuji-san, Minamoto-san and Tamura-san have arrived at floor 7. Mori-san and Haradara-san at floor 2. And a few other employees at floor 5 and 9. But no one from floor 22. You’re the first, Matsui-san.”

A wave of relief washed over her. It was the answer she hoped for. “Thank you, Nakamura-san. I won’t delay you any longer.”

The male guard opened the door for her, and stepped aside. “You’re welcome, Matsui-san. It’s a pleasure to see you back.”

Rena entered the building and didn’t dwell upon the receptionist’s surprised look, getting in the first elevator. Pressing the button 22, she tried to keep her focus on the change of floors numbers as she felt a shiver of unease stir deep down inside her. The feeling was strong, oppressing her chest, and she had to hold onto the handrail to brace herself for fear of losing her balance. Nevermind how hard she tried not to think about it, this place unleashed a stream of memories. 

It was the place where she and Jurina had first met, the latter soaked from head to toe in search of a new job opportunity. It was the place where, as soon as the elevator emptied and they found themselves alone, they had exchanged so many kisses and words of affection. It was the place where Jurina had asked for her hand in marriage, and she had immediately said yes. It was also the place where Jurina had showed her proudly an ultrasound, revealing the arrival of their first child.

The changes of floors felt interminable. 7, 8, 9. Rena panted, every breath burning through her throat. 11, 12, 13. It felt as though this nightmare would never end. 16, 17, 18. The idea of pressing the emergency button crossed her thoughts. Her hand clutched more tightly the railing, so hard her fingers hurt. 20, 21, 22. At last. The opening of the doors felt like a deliverance.

Her feet inched forward and she stepped outside, feeling herself tremble as she heard the doors closing behind her. She marked a long pause and tried to recollect herself, steadying her breathing. When she felt calm enough, she forced her legs to move. She walked forward, her movements stiff and awkward, until she stopped in front of the door leading towards the large office of floor 22.

As she entered, her first instinct was to sweep the place. She was grateful for the emptiness of the floor, mentally thanking Nakamura-san for his reliable memory. If she had opted for coming to the office at such an early time of the day, it was for a good reason. She wanted to avoid meeting people, fearing she wasn’t ready for any further social interaction. Making small chats at home with close friends, was one thing. Being able to hold a proper, civilized discussion with employees was a whole different matter.

She crossed the room, taking time to look around. The location of the desks. The decoration. The names of each employee, that she read and recognized, indicated on the upper right side of the window panel of every desk. Nothing seemed to have changed a bit since the last time she set foot in floor 22. Her path led her to her own private office, only to reach the same observation.

Here and there, there were some subtle signs that her office had been occupied by someone else. Rena recognized a few of Akane’s belongings, from a picture frame of her family, to her own computer. Some files were properly piled up on the left side of the desk. The place hadn’t been rearranged or redecorated, and was as tidied as she left it. Rena stood at the back of the office, feeling a warm, nostalgic feeling fill her chest.

Against all odds, her previous, almost traumatizing, experience in the elevator had vanished from her mind to give way to a more calm, peaceful sensation. When, a little while later, she left her private office and floor 22, Rena found herself conflicted. She thought it wiser to use the staircase, and the long, slow descent gave her plenty of opportunity to reflect on her next course of action.

She had felt at ease within the space of her office, surprising herself in missing her job and responsibilities, but returning to work implied more than sitting behind a desk. She would be required to attend meetings and conferences. Interact on a daily basis with employees, work partners and associates. Today, she had taken an important step forward. But was she ready to return to public life for all that?

I hope you’ll find a way to move forward and rediscover a taste for life.

The words Iriyama-san had pronounced replayed in her mind. These past two months, she had slowly emerged from her torpor. She had learned to appreciate again some aspects of daily life. Her palate became sensitive again; the food didn’t taste bitter anymore. She was capable of holding, as small and trivial they remained, bits of conversations with Airi and Akane. She didn’t feel a mere shadow of her former self anymore, and the light and outside world didn’t frighten her as much.

But she couldn’t get the picture of her wife’s body lying at the morgue out of her mind. Her chest was tight with emotion each time the memory resurfaced. She had to swallow hard to bit back tears and keep control over her feelings. Jurina’s face haunted her thoughts. She wanted to make her smile and hear her laugh. Embrace her and kiss her again. How could she move forward, when her brain refused to accept that Jurina had passed away?

Rena’s feet slowed down, and she halted in front of floor 11. It was one of the offices invested by the Research and Development Department. The department Jurina had managed, and developed so many groundbreaking projects for the past five years. All nervousness and apprehension slipped back to grip her. Every fiber in her body warned her against the idea of entering that floor.

Rena closed her eyes, trying to steady the sudden wave of fear that filled her. She had gathered so much courage to come all this way. She couldn’t turn back. She needed to overcome this new challenge. All her senses were in alert when she stepped inside the office grounds of floor 11, attentive to any noise, any sign that someone might be present. Just as Nakamura-san had stated, this floor was thankfully also void of employees. Rena’s heart was beating with an uneasy, irregular rhythm and she didn’t dwell in the main open space, taking it straight to Jurina’s private office.

Rena stood in front of the entrance, unmoving, and took a deep breath, summoning the last vestiges of her strength. Her hand tremored as she placed it onto the scan, a robotic voice granting her access. She stepped inside, the door clicking shut behind her, and she leaned heavily against it. Her gaze wandered around the room, in search of something out of the ordinary, but everything was the way it should be. Jurina’s office remained untouched, as if frozen in time.

Her black leather office chair. Her desk, with her computer and digital tablets. The square table in a corner of the room, with maps and files and other documents scattered over it. The walls decorated with a blue ocean scenery. At last, the large picture frame hanging on the wall opposite the desk, and representing Jurina’s family. Rena forbade herself to tremble and pushed herself away from the door, stepping closer to the middle of the room. Pulling the office chair, she sat down gingerly, fighting to keep her fragile control.

She tried to ignore the tightening of her stomach muscles, and let her fingers ran across the surface of the desk. She did not actually touch, merely passed the flat of her palm over her wife’s possessions, one after the other, slowly, carefully. When she felt her hand shaking, she withdrew it, and clutched her hands together in her lap. She dragged her eyes away and attempted to stand up, but her whole body felt heavy, refusing to respond, as if it no longer belonged to her.

Rena raised her hand and passed it over her face, closing her eyes, growing despondent as she could feel the tears wet on her cheek. Why on earth did she decide to come back to the office? Airi and Akane only meant well, but she remained too emotionally fragile. She wasn’t in physical and mental capacity to resume work, and this place brought back too many memories.

Absentmindedly, Rena pulled a drawer open, discovering a number of documents stuffed inside. A faint smile crossed her lips at her wife’s slight disordered desk. Jurina’s work was always so perfect and meticulous, that Rena wondered how she achieved such a miracle with her own personal conception of organization. She opened a second drawer, finding another stack of pages. Her attention was grabbed by a white envelope laying on the top of the pile. Blinking in confusion, she retrieved the mysterious envelope, and her body grew rigid as she read the inscription.


She almost dropped the envelope; her fingers shook so. She ran her fingertips across the smooth edges and, for a long moment, stared at her name penned in Jurina’s handwriting. What words could be within? Why did she feel so afraid of opening it? She pulled out a letter, carefully unfolding it. It was an old-fashioned style of paper, slightly browned with age, crackling to the touch, just like an ancient parchment. The letter was bordered with a pattern of delicate flowers, that Rena recognized as pink freesias.

Happy 30th anniversary.

Yes, I know. You said you didn’t want to receive anything special. But did you truly expect me to listen? Today is the 30th anniversary of my beautiful wife. And nothing could have stopped me from making this moment unforgettable. For months, I thought a lot about what kind of present to give you. The idea of writing you a letter, and using an old style of paper from this vintage shop you love so much, was the first that came to my mind. I can even imagine your smile right now as you read this letter.

I knew I had to do something significant to mark the occasion. I’m sorry for hiding you the truth for so long. All those evenings, when you kept asking me what was delaying me at work, I had a difficult time to not revealing everything. You are so smart and persuasive. It’s a hard task to conceal anything from you. To be honest, I didn’t even know if I would achieve my objective. During months, I worked relentlessly on this project, as discreetly as possible to not alert anyone.

I did it, Rena.

I finished the plans of the time machine.

Right now, as I’m writing those words, I’m not sure how you will receive the news. I hope you won’t be mad at me for doing it behind your back. I know you said you had put that dream behind, but certain dreams are too meaningful to give up on. I want you to go back in time. Revisit all those wonderful, ancient civilizations you so often speak about. Please accept my gift. Please build the time machine. No one should live their life with regrets, and I never want to see that fire of passion extinguish from your eyes.

With love,


Rena could hardly breathe.

She held the letter between her shaking hands, her eyes transfixed on the words. Over and over, she ran her gaze across them. She had a hard time believing what she was reading. Adrenaline suddenly shot through her as she realized what Jurina had accomplished. A miracle. There was no other way to name it. Rena straightened her shoulders and, tilting her chin up, wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

Her eyes gleamed with a newfound determination.

« Last Edit: March 28, 2020, 06:57:09 PM by sophcaro »
My WMatsui fanfics:

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

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

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