One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Updated, 10/8]

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DaGarver
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One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Updated, 10/8]

Post by DaGarver » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:27 pm

Got the inspiration for this one a couple days ago, mostly just had one scene that I really wanted to write. Enjoy, you guys.

One Wish
pastebin: http://pastebin.com/nC53R0qs

Lilly's passing was all so sudden. One day, she was with us. And now, she was gone. Even though we - the doctors, her family, and I - had expected it for months, it wasn't any easier to bear.

Stomach cancer. Stage three before they caught it. They did their best, but we could only watch in horror as it completely ravaged her body. Once it had spread into her liver, there was nothing more to be done. She had her death sentence, and all we could do was fulfill all her last wishes. She wasn't in any pain at the end. They loaded her up with morphine just to make sure she could go in peace.

Hanako wasn't there by her side when she left. She moved to the big city shortly after graduation, claiming she needed a change. Both Lilly and I thought it strange at first, considering how bad she was around people. But there was no changing her mind. She firmly believed that it would be good for her. And so we said goodbye, at least for a short time.

That was five years ago.

We didn't hear much from her in those five years. She sent us both a letter midway through the second year since we had seen her, detailing her new life. She had met a man named Eiji, and they began a relationship. Her education was going well, and she ended up choosing a path in social work, focusing mostly on young children. I guess she felt that she could relate to them, having been in their shoes at one point.

Part of me wonders, even now, what might have changed if I hadn't gone into her room that day. What if I had followed Lilly's advice, if I had let her be? Would she have killed herself? Would we be together? I sincerely hope for the latter, even today. Reading about her time with Eiji only served to break my spirit. It was then that I realized I never looked at another girl quite like I looked at Hanako.

So many things could have been done differently. Hindsight is 20/20, right? We always look back on the past, aching to change the future.

But enough about the past. Today, we gather to celebrate a life, one taken from us as quickly as she came into our lives.

Akira and I are traveling together after I picked her up from the house she and her sister were living in. The place has been a wreck for the past week or so, without Lilly's attention. They started living together not long after Lilly finished her studies, just before the diagnosis. Neither of them married, and Akira's age makes it hard for her to date anymore. “No one wants an old maid, Hisao,” she says as we round a curve in the road.

“Oh, c'mon, that can't be true,” I respond, taking care to keep my eyes on the road. “You're successful, intelligent, attractive...”

“And none of it means a damn thing, just because I'm 30 now.” She takes a sip from her drink can, continuing to stare straight ahead.

“There has to be a guy out there for you. I can't imagine there not being.”

“If there is, he's definitely not in Japan. Might just take up that offer from my dad to work with him in Scotland. Marry a nice Englishman or something like that.” She downs the rest of her drink, crushing the can in her grip before cracking the other she brought along for the trip.

“Should you really be drinking before the funeral?”

A laugh erupts from her stomach. “Kid, I've got enough tolerance to handle it.” She slurps off the top before continuing. “Besides, with my family, I'll need it.” Point taken. I've never met the rest of the Satou extended family, but they aren't exactly the sanest bunch around, from what I've heard. At least her parents seemed nice from what little interaction I had with them at Lilly's deathbed.

Everyone here is dressed in the standard attire: men in black and white suits, women in black dresses and kimonos. Even Akira, as masculine as she is, wears a long, loose-fitting black dress. “I meant to ask,” I start. She turns her attention to me. “What's with the getup? I figured you'd fight tooth and nail to wear a suit.”

“Mom's request,” she tells me before we step into the building. “I'm not a dress fan, but I figured I could at least appease her. Plus… it's my sister, y'know? I want to leave things right.” Lilly's passing was the hardest on her. Akira once remarked how they were more like mother and daughter than sisters after their parents left permanently for Inverness. I imagine this is much like losing a child, in that regard. Or, at least, a best friend.

“I understand,” I say back to her.

We head inside, surrounded by a crowd of people that neither of us know. “Dad always knew how to throw parties and make connections,” Akira remarks, a snide tint in her voice.

“I wouldn't exactly call this a party.”

“Hey, there's free food. One step closer already.” I actually appreciate her attempts to lighten the mood. She's never been the serious type. “Go help yourself, I'm gonna say hi to my folks.”

I nod and head to the kitchen, the smells of freshly prepared pastries already wafting through the corridors. Surprisingly, very few are gathered around them. How do these people resist such tempting treats? I spot a sign next to the table on which they sit, written in both English and Japanese, “Family only.” Oh, that's why. Well, I'm not blood family, but I don't think anyone will mind if I yank one of these cakes....

Sitting at the small table, I start to eat away at my prize, flipping out my phone and scrolling through a news feed. It serves its purpose to take my mind off of why I'm here, at least. Absorbed in the stories and articles, I only catch a faint patter of footsteps. An airy little voice, followed by a tug on my pant leg: “E-excuse me, mister.”

I look down to a short little girl, no more than three years old. Her hair is a dark violet, eyes light gray. The features on her face are familiar, but I can't quite put my finger on how. “Yes?” I respond, mouth still slightly full of cake. “Can I help you?”

She kicks her feet back and forth, holding her hands behind her back. “I... I was just w-wondering if I could... have some cake?” I assume that she's just an extended member of the Satou family, probably on the Japanese side based on her hair color.

I break off a piece of my pastry and hand it to her. “I don't see why not.” She accepts it graciously, a smile etching into her dimpled cheeks.

“Thank you, sir!” She heads toward the door, racing quickly down the corridor and into the main procession room. Cute kid, I say to myself. She leaps into the arms of a woman bearing the same dark hair that she does. Part of me wonders if... maybe if that would be her. But that's silly, isn't it? Worry about who is here, not who might be here. It strikes me that I haven't signed the guest book, so I swiftly finish my pastry and head over to the pedestal bearing the small booklet.

I scan across the names already listed, just to see who is actually present. One of the names stands out. Was I right? Did she actually come?

'Hanako Ikezawa.'

My eyes dart around the room. A glimpse of that girl from earlier catches my eye, gripping the same woman's dress. The woman's hair extends down to her waist. She's talking to Akira, who seems excited to see her. Like a long lost friend. It's worth a shot, I suppose.

I approach the girls. “Um... Hanako?”

She turns to face me, that signature web of scarring crawling across the right side of her face. Her pupils close up. “Hisao...,” she whispers.

I look at Akira. “E-excuse me, Hanako, I need to talk to Akira.” She nods, and I pull Akira away from her and into the network of corridors. Once satisfied that Hanako isn't within earshot, I pinch at the corners of my eyes.

“Something wrong?” she asks. I can't tell if she's being sarcastic, rhetorical, serious, or what.

“Yes!” I bite back. She reels back, flinching at my response. “Sorry, didn't mean it to come out that way. Just... what is Hanako doing here?”

“What do you mean what is she doing here? She was Lilly's best friend.”

“But how did she know? I didn't tell her anything, and I'm pretty damn sure Lilly didn't, either.”

“I told her.” ...you what. “I thought she deserved a chance to pay her final respects.” I lean up against the wall, sighing heavily. “Don't tell me you thought I'd let her miss out on this.”

“To be honest, yeah, I did.”

“Are you still uptight about seeing her? It's been five years, Hisao. Five. Years. You've had plenty of time to cope with losing her as a lover, and it was your own damn fault in the first place for friend-zoning yourself.” I clench my eyes shut, hoping to drown out her words. She responds by grabbing my arm and dragging me back toward the main room.

“Hey, hey, where do you think you're taking me?”

“Back to make you talk to her. She's standing there, she wants to talk to you, and you damn well know it. Time for you man up for once.” Oh, goddammit.

She practically throws me back into the room, and I stumble to regain my footing. Hanako's already taken her seat among the audience, eyes glued forward as the little girl with her earlier plays around her feet. I approach them slowly, my feet almost shuffling along the floor. She doesn't take notice of me until I speak. “...Hanako?”

Her neck cranes to lock eyes with me, that same wide-eyed look in hers. “May...,” I continue. “May I sit with you?” She smiles and gives a slight nod, much like the shy girl that I used to know from high school. I take a seat next to her, and the girl with us calms down and takes a seat on her far side.

“So...,” I start, “how have you been?”

“Um... fine. We just moved into town, and Akira called me about Lilly a few days ago. It was... hard. I didn't expect it.”

“None of us did, really. She got the six-month sentence, and at that point we just wanted to make her comfortable.”

“Why... why didn't anyone tell me that she was on her deathbed? I would have come to see her.”

I think for a moment, rubbing my chin. There wasn't really a reason, I guess. It didn't come to mind, and Lilly never mentioned it. Now that I think about it, it's strange that Hanako wasn't on her bucket list, as close as they were. “I honestly don't know.”

“I... see.”

Maybe I should try to lighten the mood. “So, who's the girl?”

“Oh, yes. This is my daughter, Aki. Say hello, Aki.” The girl just clings to her mother's sleeve, hiding behind her slim frame. Hanako giggles. “She's a bit shy, but she's very sweet.”

“Sounds like somebody else I know.” Her face turns red, brushing off my comment. “Who's the father, if I might ask? Must be one lucky man.”

Her expression sours, as if just the thought of him brings her down. “He's... not around anymore.”

I don't respond, nor do we talk again until the funeral starts.

The ceremonies proceed as they should. A man of the faith gives a short eulogy, talks about her religion and the afterlife, and then leads us in a small prayer. They lift Lilly's casket and load it into the hearse for delivery to the crematorium. We all step outside, and Hanako grabs my attention before I get into my car.

“I'm not going,” she says. “I can't bear to watch that.”

“Whatever makes you comfortable. I need to go pick up Akira and take her home after, though.” She offers me a hug, which I graciously accept. I whisper, “It was good seeing you again.”

“Why don't you come by my place later tonight?” she asks. Is this some lewd invitation, Hanako? I thought you were above such things. “Just to talk. I want to fix things. I've already lost one friend, I don't want to lose another if I can help it.” Guess that clarifies it. Glad I was wrong.

“Of course,” I respond. She pulls a slip of paper from her small purse, clicks a pen, and writes down the address. I tuck the note in my pocket and step into my car as she walks away.

I lean my head back on the seat and sigh. Today just got a hell of a lot more interesting.

----------

I'm standing outside Hanako's door. Funny, some years ago, I was in a similar situation: a complete nervous wreck, worried about what might happen within these walls. But this time feels different. First of all, she invited me. She said that she wanted to talk, that she wanted to try and patch things up after Lilly's death. I can't say I blame her. It's been a long time since we last saw each other, and the funeral wasn't exactly the best place to catch up.

Reluctant knocks rap on the wood of her door. I can't walk away now, not without looking a total fool. As if it was possible to look otherwise anyway.

The tumblers in the latch twist and turn, though they seem to struggle. A light, tinny voice greets me from the cracked opening. “H-hello?” She sounds just like her mother.

I bend down, putting my hands on my knees. “Hello, Aki. Is your mom home?” She nods. “Can you get her for me?” Another nod, and she heads back into the dark of their apartment.

“Mommy!” she cries. “The man from the funeral is here!” I guess that's one way to describe me.

I invite myself in, removing my shoes and placing them by the door. Hanako's apartment is small, quaint. Big enough for three people to live comfortably, though one has gone away. Her living room is decorated with a black sofa along the wall, facing toward a small television and entertainment center. I notice a few picture frames sitting on the sides, encasing photos of their little family. One of the panes is cracked along the man's face, spidering across to Hanako's. My fingers graze along the deformed surface. “I'm sorry, Hanako...” I whisper.

“Sorry for what?” I turn to see her standing in the opening to the living room from the entrance, wearing a set of lounging pants and a loose t-shirt. Aki clings to her leg, hiding behind the pale figure.

I remove my hand from the picture. “Nothing.”

As I walk over to Hanako, she pats her daughter on the head, smiling. “Aki, why don't you go get ready for bed? Mommy will be up in a minute to tuck you in.” The little girl nods and rushes up the stairs, leaving us alone in this room.

“She's adorable,” I remark. “Just as shy as you were all those years ago.”

She giggles, one of those things she never really did at Yamaku. Five years has done a lot for her. “I'm very proud of her, though,” she responds. “She's just a bit timid, is all.” Extending her arm, she invites me to sit on the sofa with her. “Let's talk.”

I oblige, taking my place on the far cushion away from her. Despite her wanting to bring us closer together, I don't want to seem like I'm desperate for companionship. Even though I definitely am. Lilly was one of the last friends I had left, and now Hanako magically comes back when she leaves? Seems almost a bit too good to be true.

“Before we get too into it,” she says, “let me go put Aki to bed.”

“Too… into it?” She glares at me, catching where my mind went with that pretty quickly. My face heats up. “No, no, not what I meant!”

She just laughs. “I know. Be right back, Hisao.”

As she heads up the stairs after Aki, I start to think about why I'm here. Even though she supposedly just wants to rebuild all the burned bridges, I can't help but feel that there's more to it than that. Why did it take Lilly's funeral to really bring us back together? That worries me. I know that she's been struggling recently... for years even. Can I really pull her out of that?

“Hisao.” Her voice is but a whisper, standing in the opening next to the staircase. She's smiling. “Come upstairs. I want you to see something.” I nod and tag along with her up the stairs. My first footstep on the wooden planks creaks through the house, and she shushes me. “She's asleep. Don't wake her.” I take extra care to ensure that my feet move silently from then on.

Aki's room is just up the stairs on the left side of the hallway. The door is slightly ajar, just enough to peek inside. Even so, Hanako nudges it open bit by bit until the entire room is in view. Covered in various tints of green and stuffed animals, it's a typical little girl's bedroom. In the center, the owner lies beneath her sheets, drowning in her own dreams. Her face is turned toward us, the rhythm of her small breaths forcing the covers up and down in time.

“Beautiful, isn't she?” Hanako asks.

“Yeah. Absolutely so.” I start taking a few steps toward the bed before turning back to face her. She nods, knowing what I want. I take each step cautiously, trying to make as little noise as possible. Successfully managing to make it over to Aki's bedside without disturbing her, I squat onto her level. Adorable is an understatement. With a smile, I place a hand on her shoulder. She stirs, but not enough to awaken, and pulls the sheets closer to her. It's a simple gesture, but all I wanted to do.

Satisfied, I walk back to Hanako with the same level of care. She closes the door behind us as we walk out. “I didn't tell you who the father was earlier.”

Yeah, she didn't. “Does it matter?”

“Eiji. The same man I met not long after I moved away from you and Lilly.” So that's why she didn't want to talk about it earlier. Her first shared love left her behind.

“Why isn't he around?”

She chuckles slightly, choking back a few tears. “It's a long story.”

“I've got time.”

With a deep inhale and a long exhale, she starts heading toward her room. I follow. Boxes litter the floor inside, still caught in the unpacking stage. A few pictures sit on her dresser, but none of her and another man. There are some of her and Aki at all stages of her daughter's short life. How long has he been gone?

“It's been three and a half years now.” I turn my attention away from the pictures to the source of her voice. She's holding a single frame in her hands, one of just her and another man. She brushes the surface lightly with her fingertips. “Since he left.”

“But he's her dad, right? And she can't be older than three. That means...” She turns her head and nods, eyes bloodshot.

“She doesn't know him. She never did. I'm all she has.”

“So... I guess I can ask you the same question, then.” Her eyes are inquisitive, wondering where I'm going next. “From earlier today. You said Eiji left over three years ago. Why didn't you call us? We would've been there in a heartbeat.” It's a small lie. I'm still not convinced that I could have been there for her. It was hard enough at Yamaku. I loved watching her grow into her own person, but knowing that we weren't going to be together pained me.

“To tell the truth...,” she answers after a long thought, hanging her head. “I was afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

She tilts her head back up to stare at me. “That you might hate me for leaving.”

I wrap her up in my arms, and she reluctantly returns it. “Hanako, you left to find your own way, without me and Lilly. We couldn't hate you for that.” I pull away slightly to lock gazes with her. “When you stopped sending letters, Lilly took it as a sign that you didn't need her anymore. I... I guess that's why she didn't want you there when she died. She didn't want you to feel any more pain. You were happy, and that's all she really cared about.”

Hanako flinches and breaks contact, falling onto the mattress behind her, eyes quivering with some concoction of fear, worry, and depression. “W-we never married. I couldn't do it. And then I got p-pregnant with Aki and... he left.” As she pours her heart out to me, that familiar stammer returns. I take a seat next to her, offering only a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “She doesn't even know her own dad, and I failed her in that. Looking back, I... I just wanted to make him happy. I guess I wasn't good enough.”

“That's no way to think.”

“Th-then why did he leave me?!” The anger dripping from her voice doesn't suit her, though that might be the bad memories coming back to me. I reel back for a second, causing her to instantly regret her words. “H-Hisao... I'm sorry.”

“No, don't be. You're hurt, Hanako. It's expected.” She falls forward onto me, using my chest as a crying pillow. Wetness streams down her face and through my shirt, and I give her a couple of light pats on the head.

“W-why does it hurt so bad?” she asks, her voice muffled against my shirt. “I loved him. I shouldn't feel this way.

“Because we hate it when people leave us.” I start drawing from my own experience with her. “Because we feel like we did something wrong, like we could have fixed it somehow if things went a little differently.” I glue my eyes shut, thinking back on our time at Yamaku. On all of our shared experiences, and how I failed to let her grow into her own person. Now she sits here, practically begging for my love. Should I be doing this for her?

I'm not sure, to be honest. Nor do I really care.

“I wish so many things were different...” My voice is soft, raspy, tired. A man pushed to the brink of collapse from pure exhaustion. I can only imagine what she feels like, having to deal with the collective loss of both her best friend and re-living the departure of her lover within the same week. Now, the three of us - Hanako, Aki, and myself - are alone in the world. All we have is each other, and this is our broken little family now.

My fingers drift along Hanako's cheek, gently stroking the scarring of her skin as my other hand runs through the hairs on the back of her head. My forehead meets hers, and she grabs my wrist instinctively to push me away. But I don't think she can push me away any longer. Especially not now, in this moment of weakness for the both of us.

She leaves her hand there, loosening her grip and moving the other to my sternum. Just as I traced lines along her face, so too does her touch glide along the contours of my chest. I pick up her chin, lifting her face to look into the eye untouched by her scarring. Slowly, gently, I brush her hair back and tuck it behind her ear. She does not object.

“I do, too,” she whispers back. Her eyes are blank ahead, our gazes locked perfectly. I catch a hint of sadness in her eyes. Remorse, even. As if she was trying to apologize for that one afternoon at Yamaku, so long ago. Longing for a second chance, for a way to make things the way that we both wanted them to be back then. “I... I wish she was yours.”

The bomb has dropped. “Hanako, you don't mean that.”

“But I do!” Her response is quick, loud, ensuring that I don't interrupt her. “When... when you came into my room that day, I w-wasn't sure what to think. P-part of me wanted... to scream. To be angry at you.” She looks back up at me, her gray eyes reddened and bloodshot. “But I couldn't. B-because I knew how good of a friend you had been to me. And... and because I wanted you to be more than just my friend.”

I pull her close, enveloping her in my embrace. “I'll always try to be that friend. No matter what. And... I'm sorry that we couldn't protect you this time.” She lets out a sigh of relief.

“It's... okay. I wanted to... to grow into my own person. That's why I left, right?”

I break away, giving her a sincere smile. “I'm almost glad you did. You always were a beautiful person. And you've become quite the young woman, if I may say so.”

A smile flashes across her mouth for but an instant. The hand resting on my chest moves up my neck, across my face, and around to the back of my head. Her eyes shimmer from her crying, a combination of both sadness and joy at this point. I start to lose track of time, just looking into those brilliant gray irises. At some point, my hands move to her waist. Her face inches closer and closer to mine, our breathing intensifying.

She makes the move, pulling my lips into hers. They taste faintly of cherries, as soft as I imagined they would be. A long sigh escapes her nostrils as we both sink into the moment, my hands moving to opposite sides of her waist. Her fingers run through my hair, extracting every drop of passion she can find. But this doesn't feel lustful. It feels like two lost lovers being reunited. Brought together by chance, under some terrible circumstances and making the most of what they have.

“Hisao...” she mutters as she pulls away. “Am I crazy?”

“Why on earth would you be crazy?”

“For wanting this. For wanting you, even after all these years. Even after everything that's happened, all the ways I screwed up-”

I shush her with another kiss. I can feel the smile curling into her mouth, the heat of our bodies melding together. She has her answer, and it's exactly the one she hoped for. As I pull away this time, she leans forward, longing for more. I chuckle a bit, and she laughs along with me.

“Only as crazy as I am.”

----------

Critique, comments, criticism, other various c-words, blah blah blah.
Last edited by DaGarver on Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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YourFavAnon
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by YourFavAnon » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:44 pm

I already told you in crispy, but this was fantastic. If you don't write another part to this, I will.

Seriously.
I write things occasionally.

Dumps of my 35+ fics can be found here and here (including some non-KS stuff).

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by Tormound » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:49 pm

YourFavAnon wrote:I already told you in crispy, but this was fantastic. If you don't write another part to this, I will.

Seriously.
Very nice story, really great.
Also FavAnon if you do write an another part to this can you post a link here?

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YourFavAnon
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by YourFavAnon » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:52 pm

Tormound wrote:
YourFavAnon wrote:I already told you in crispy, but this was fantastic. If you don't write another part to this, I will.

Seriously.
Very nice story, really great.
Also FavAnon if you do write an another part to this can you post a link here?
If he doesn't, I surely will.
I write things occasionally.

Dumps of my 35+ fics can be found here and here (including some non-KS stuff).

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by Banda » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:04 am

YourFavAnon wrote:
Tormound wrote:
YourFavAnon wrote:I already told you in crispy, but this was fantastic. If you don't write another part to this, I will.

Seriously.
Very nice story, really great.
Also FavAnon if you do write an another part to this can you post a link here?
If he doesn't, I surely will.
Oh, he will, or we'll find him.

And FORCE him to write.

Call me Kathy Bates, because I'll be the source of your misery.
I am the Futa King, and shall remain so until my Bolvar comes.

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Aug 17, 2012 8:50 am

Actually I think this stands pretty well on its own.
I'm not sure what a sequel could add.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
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txalolrn9
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by txalolrn9 » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:39 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually I think this stands pretty well on its own.
I'm not sure what a sequel could add.

I whole heartedly agree, people that want more just want smut
It only hurts when I breathe

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by DaGarver » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:12 am

txalolrn9 wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually I think this stands pretty well on its own.
I'm not sure what a sequel could add.

I whole heartedly agree, people that want more just want smut
Actually, people asking for more seem to be more interested in the Aki-Hisao dynamic. Being shoved into fatherhood, learning to love a child who isn't yours, etc.

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by YourFavAnon » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:16 pm

DaGarver wrote:
txalolrn9 wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually I think this stands pretty well on its own.
I'm not sure what a sequel could add.

I whole heartedly agree, people that want more just want smut
Actually, people asking for more seem to be more interested in the Aki-Hisao dynamic. Being shoved into fatherhood, learning to love a child who isn't yours, etc.
This is exactly what I want. I want something that shows how he grows into the role, sort of like a time skip to see how things settle in.
I write things occasionally.

Dumps of my 35+ fics can be found here and here (including some non-KS stuff).

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Tormound
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by Tormound » Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:32 pm

txalolrn9 wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:Actually I think this stands pretty well on its own.
I'm not sure what a sequel could add.

I whole heartedly agree, people that want more just want smut
Really, come on... Not everyone is perverted... Although ill admit im slightly am but that is not the reason i want this continued.

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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)

Post by DaGarver » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:48 am

Lo and behold, a month later, I actually fulfill that request for an epilogue.

Granted
pastebin: http://pastebin.com/RSJea00s
For Banda and YFA, because they actually f***ing asked for it

“Come on, let's go!” Aki's voice rings through the air, bright and luminous. Hanako and I are following behind her, our fingers intertwined, bags dangling from our shoulders. Her bright red backpack makes her stand out amongst the hordes of pedestrians, despite it being standard issue for all new elementary students.

“Patience, sweetheart,” Hanako says after her. Aki pays her no attention, still racing through the crowds with seemingly boundless energy.

“But the train station is so close!” she responds. “We're almost there, and I'm excited!”

I let go of Hanako's hand for a moment to chase after “my” daughter. Not technically mine. But after Hanako and I started dating again two years ago, I tried my best to take her in as my own. It was a bit disconcerting at first, knowing that this was a girl fathered by a different man. Despite all of that, I remained strong.

And I wouldn't trade what I have for anything.

She's a slippery snake, weaving around and among pairs of legs like trees in a forest. But that backpack is her downfall, as is the sound of her laughter after she notices me following her. I hunch down like a predator, undoubtedly garnering a few strange looks from the people around us. As if these people don't understand the joy of having a child to call your own. I pity those that don't.

I thrust a hand forward, but she steps just out of my grasp. I reach again, and again, clawing for something to hold on to. All it'll take to capture her is one... little... slip up... There. Got her.

My hand meets her shoulder, and she slows to a stop, satisfied with her game. She spins around, baring her pearly whites, and throws her arms around my neck. “You caught me, Daddy!” That word. It sends satisfactory shivers down my spine.

“You didn't really think you could outrun your dad, did you?”

She giggles. “No, but I had to try~.”

Hanako comes up behind us, her footsteps light and graceful. The professional side of her was one of the first differences I noticed after we started dating again. I never really imagined her in heels when we were in school together, but she manages to make it work. She still wears an almost all-encompassing suit, though. I suppose one doesn't really get over physical damage like hers.

I, on the other hand, am fortunate enough to have the day off. I took a vacation day especially for Aki. There aren't many days that I get to have her to myself, and I wanted this one to be special. It is her first day at school, after all.

“Finally decided to slow down for me?” Hanako asks, a hint of sarcasm in her tone.

“I thought it might've been a good idea,” I reply, rising to my feet as Aki still hangs onto my neck. I swing her around to wrap her legs around my waist from the back, making it a bit easier to carry her. My arrythmia hasn't bothered me for a few years now, with all the recent medical advances. Someone finally made a breakthrough on it, and I get to reap the benefits. Like actually giving my daughter a piggy-back ride.

We continue through the crowd as one dysfunctional little family. I mean, Hanako isn't technically my wife. So Aki isn't technically my stepdaughter either. I should probably fix that soon.

Hanako starts up another round of conversation: “So, Aki, ready for your first day?”

This little girl is usually quite bubbly, like most her age. But that question turns her sour. “Not really.”

“Why not?” I ask.

“Just... not.” Her skin turns a bit cold against mine, and she rests her head on my collar.

“You're not scared, are you?” I try to be playful, teasing her to lighten the mood.

“Mmm... a little.” Well, that went swimmingly. I guess it's normal for her to be scared. She's never had a full day without someone she really knows around. This will be her first experience with that.

“You don't need to be scared, you know,” I respond. “You're a smart little girl. The teachers will love you.”

Aki doesn't respond, electing to bury her face in my neck and tighten her grip on me.

The rest of our walk is short and progresses in absolute silence. The little girl hanging off my back perks up as we start to descend the staircase into the depths of the city. “We're finally there?” she asks ecstatically.

“Yep,” I respond. “Still excited, I see.”

“You expect less from her?” Hanako says.

“Point taken,” I answer. “She is your daughter.”

“Hey!” Aki bites. “Don't make fun of Mom! You're supposed to love her!” Hanako makes a fake sobbing gesture for emphasis.

“Gang up on me, why don'tcha? Just having a little fun is all...”

The girls giggle in unison, and Hanako plants a quick kiss on my cheek. Aki retches and gags. “Yuck, cooties! Mom, how can you stand them?” Just to mess with her, I peck Hanako's cheek in return. More gagging. “Ewewewewewewewew!”

Her mother laughs with childish delight. “You learn to like them, sweetie.”

“Nuh-uh! Not in a million years!”

Hanako just rolls her eyes, still smiling. That 'What are we going to do with her?' kind of look. “Well, kiddo,” I start, “I think she would like them by now or I wouldn't still be around.” She concedes the point with a grumble, slamming her head on my collar in disgust.

The ticket purchase booths are crowded as always. There's a significant number of children around, likely for the same reason ours is. Each of them being clad in a school uniform and a red backpack confirms my suspicion. Thankfully, Hanako foresaw this and thought to buy us a yearly metro pass. Cheaper than buying them each day, too, so it was definitely a no-brainer situation.

Hanako's office is on the opposite end of town, so she has to take a separate train. We come to the juncture where we'll be splitting for the day. “Have a nice day off, love,” she says to me. “And you behave yourself on your first day, alright?” Aki doesn't look at her, still resigned in defeat. Hanako gives her a pinch on the cheek. “Hey,” she continues. The girl lifts her head. “I know you'll do well, my little angel.” She plants a kiss on her daughter's forehead, pulling a smile out of that dreary attitude.

Aki motions that she wants down, and I ease her off my back. She runs to her mother, leaping into her embrace. “You're getting so big...” I swear I can almost hear her voice crack, restraining that old stammer. It still comes back sometimes, but only in moments of extreme emotion. I think this qualifies.

The two release each other, and I take Aki's hand. “I love you both,” Hanako says.

“I love you, too,” we respond in unison. She rounds her heel and starts off to her train, leaving only the two of us.

“C'mon, kiddo,” I say, tugging at her hand. “Let's get moving.” I look up at one of the clocks hanging from the walls: 07:27.

Shit.

The train we need is leaving at 07:31, so it'll dock at 07:29 sharp. Two minutes. Plenty of time, if we move fast. I start moving into a slight jog, practically dragging my daughter along with me just to keep up the pace.

“Daddy, slow down!” my passenger pleads.

“No time, we're running behind!” I spin around and pick her up, thinking it'll save time and make it easier on her. I would hate to see her physically exhausted on her first day. Drenched in sweat, and all the smells that come with it... Yeah, please no. It actually ends up slowing us down a bit, but I think we'll be fine at the current pace.

The crowds are a bit more difficult to navigate when carrying another person. Hell, it's bad enough on your own. I remember trying to get to my first day on the new job some years ago, failing miserably and almost getting fired for being late. All because I was too polite and let people cut in front of me. It's a dog-eat-dog world, and sometimes you just have to shove people out of your way to get where you're going.

I hate to admit that I'm guilty of that, especially with impressionable eyes watching me, but it's the truth. I've got somewhere to be, and I'm running late. I'll explain it to her later, if I have to.

There's the entrance to our terminal. I glance down at my watch: 07:28. Close to 07:29. Looks like we'll make it. I rush into the terminal, girl still in my arms, and manage to fight my way onto the designated platform. I stop to catch my breath, relieved at seeing an empty track with lots of people around. Aki climbs out of my grasp, and I set my bag on the floor.

“Tired?” she asks.

“A little bit. Had to make sure we made the train.”

“Is that why you were so mean to all those people?” Dammit, she caught me.

“I'll explain it to you later. Don't do what I just did, always leave really early. Otherwise, you have to be really rude just to make it on time.” Ye olde 'do as I say, not as I do.' Great parenting there, Hisao.

The metro comes roaring down the tunnel, carrying a blast of stale air along with it. You would think that my time growing up in the city would make me used to their grand entrances by now, yet it still catches me off guard. Aki's reaction is similar, but amplified. She covers her ears in a futile attempt to shut out the noise. The steel rails groan as the metro comes to a grinding halt, stopping with the doors aligned with the marked spots on the floor.

I pat Aki on the head and smile, trying to give her a signal that she's safe now. Her hands let go of her ears reluctantly, making sure I'm not playing some kind of sick joke on her. I'm not that cruel, am I?

I bend over to pick up my bag, and Aki reaches for my free hand. I take hers in mine, guiding the both of us into the busting crowd attempting to cram into the train. Sendai is not very large, but rush hour is hell no matter where you go. After a few bumps and run-ins with the local morons trying to fight their way to work on time, we make it inside. I search for a double seat, but give up and settle for giving my daughter a seat, grabbing a support pole for myself.

She kicks her legs back and forth, finding amusement in the motions. “Enjoying yourself?” I ask her with a smile.

She nods emphatically. “Mmhmm~! It's fun, you should try it.” She reminds me of her mother, at times: playing games with herself, much like Hanako's tile-hopping in the school halls.

“I guess you're not still worried about your first day, then?”

Her happy-go-lucky attitude quickly darkens. I'm still new to reading her; two years has not been enough to learn the ins and outs of this girl. She seemed similar to who I imagined a young Hanako would be, at first: timid, introverted, yet caring and loyal. She's opened up a lot more since I came into her life. Hanako attributes it to me stepping up to be her father. I'm still unconvinced.

“I'm... I dunno,” she replies. “Kinda scared, I guess.”

I put a hand on her shoulder for reassurance. The train jerks to life, forcing me back into full lenience on my pole. Once I regain my balance, I try again. “Don't worry about it too much,” I say softly, just over the engine's bellows. “You'll do fine.”

“But, Daddy, what if no one likes me?” Her voice is laced with a pleading tone. Not quite fear, but reluctance. “What if I do something weird and they all laugh at me?”

I'm reminded of a quote that might help here. I slide down the pole to get on eye level with her, claiming one of her tiny hands in mine. “Aki...,” I start, “a wise man once said, ‘Be yourself. Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter won't mind.’” Her eyes go wide, her brain racking to understand the words. “Your mother and I will always love you. So will Gramma and Grampa. So will Aunt Akira.” My fingertips caress her cheek. “And so will someone you meet today.”

“P-promise?” she stammers. Yeah, she's definitely her mother's child.

“Promise.” The smile returns to her face, and I rise back to a standing position.

“Hey, Daddy?”

My attention shifts back to my daughter. “Yes, Aki?”

“Who said that? The ‘who matter, be yourself’ thing.”

I smile, anticipating her response. Her favorite author. “Dr. Seuss.”

“Really? The same man that wrote the cat hat story?” She practically beams at me, hands curled into fists and held against her chest.

“Yeah. Same guy.”

“I love him. That makes me feel a lot better.” Mission accomplished. “Thanks, Daddy.” I swear that word still makes my heart melt, and she's not even biologically mine.

“No problem, kiddo.”

I watch the rotating digital map on the wall of our train. It's supposed to be a seven minute trip to our stop, and there are about four and a half minutes left. The map twists and turns, showcasing the entire underground mapping of this route, along with our current location, upcoming stops, and estimated time to arrival of each of those stops. Cool stuff, really. I was always at least handy with computers, but it was never my thing. Sometimes I wonder if it should've been. That field's come a long way, and I would've loved to be a part of it.

Just standing there, mesmerized in the dance of lights and pixels, my thoughts start to wander. I look back and think about all the memories I've shared with this girl over the past few years. It's been a fun ride, to say the least. Each day more exciting than the last. I still vividly remember the day I moved into Hanako's apartment. Aki was rather shocked at how quickly things escalated, given that we waited a matter of weeks before deciding to live together. We practically were already, given how much time we spent together.

She wasn't entirely accepting of me, at first. She never knew her father, so she had no idea what to think of me. It was always just her and Hanako, two girls against the world. She had no one to look up to, no real secondary figurehead in her life. I had to step into the role. It was hard. I thrust myself into a position where I didn't know how things would go from day to day. Where every moment was an adventure just waiting to happen.

But I'll be damned if it wasn't fun. And I think I've done a fine job, if I do say so myself.

“Daddy?” Her voice pulls me out of my trance. She tugs on my pant leg, just to make sure she gets my attention. Her large, blue eyes shimmer and bore into me. Filled with curiosity and wonder. “What was your first day like?”

I think for a moment. There have been so many. “First day of what?”

“Of school, silly!”

“Oh, okay. Hm. Well, I don't remember much of it, to be honest. I remember...” Well, what do I remember? “I remember the absolutely terrible school lunches. I had Gramma make me a bento every day after that. That's why Mommy made yours for today. I remember hating most of my teachers. They were all kinda mean, really strict. Uptight. I hated it. And... I remember meeting some of my first real friends that day. Some of us were even friends until high school. Until...” Did I ever tell her how Hanako and I could have met? About that day in the snow?

“Until what, Daddy?”

“Until my accident.” She cocks her head, affirming my doubts. I should probably tell her. I don't want there to be secrets between us.

“One day, in the cold of November, almost... 8 or 9 years ago.” Christ, has it really been that long? “I looked in my locker and found a note from a secret admirer. It said to meet her in the park that evening. So I did. I went to the park, amongst the trees and snow. And a girl showed up. Her name was Iwanako. And she confessed to me. I had never had a girl confess to me before. My heart started beating really fast and... and I had a heart attack. My first one, there in the park, with only a shy girl that I barely knew to help me. But she did, and I ended up going to Yamaku for my last year of school.” I smile, because this is my favorite part. “And that's how I met your mother.”

She smiles, a stark contrast to her melancholy mood during my story. “I always like sad stories with happy endings,” she says, twisting her shoulders with her hands in her lap. “Thanks for sharing, Daddy~.”

I can't help but smile back. This girl is far too adorable. “Anytime, sweetie. I don't want to keep secrets from you. Can you do the same for me?”

She nods, extending her pinky. “Pinky promise.”

I accept, knowing that it's a lie. I know that there will come a day during her teenage years when she'll have all kinds of secrets to withhold. But all that matters is right now. All that matters is her putting forth the effort. And that means the world to me.

The train starts to slow, coming to the first stop on the line: our stop. The platform is full of its own potential passengers, but they'll - hopefully - stand clear for us to exit. I'm not holding my breath, though. Once the engine comes to a complete stop, I offer my hand to Aki. “C'mon, let's get moving.” She takes my hand, and I manage to work us out the exit of the train. Hard part done, now we just have to get to her school building.

I pull my phone out of my bag and start up my maps app. Giving it a destination, it spits out walking directions. The building isn't far, only about a ten minute walk. That's plenty of time; it's only a little under twenty minutes to the hour.

The streets in this district are just as crowded as ours. That familiar shade of red is everywhere on these kids' backs. “You sure you're ready?” I ask my diminuitive companion.

She shrugs her shoulders. “I dunno, are you?” Trust me, I'm more worried than you are right now. And Hanako even more still. This is the bird's first step out of the nest. And I think I'm attached to her enough now that I have a right to be concerned about that, too.

We come up on a street corner, waiting amongst our fellow pedestrians for the walk sign to change. My foot taps impatiently, and Aki takes note. She tugs on my pant leg to get my attention. “Something wrong, Daddy?”

No, dear, nothing. Or everything. It's finally catching up to me what today means: one more step forward in her life. One more hurdle being overcome. One less milestone to reach. She's so innocent, so pure. I'm not sure that I'm ready to give that up yet.

My father always told me I wouldn't quite understand why they struggled so much with me going to Yamaku until I had a child of my own. I can see now what he means, if only on a lesser scale.

“Daddy?” Her voice calls out to me again. I look down, and she cocks her head in curiosity. I smile at the gesture, amused by her childish demeanor.

“Nothing, sweetie. Just... thinking.”

The walk sign from across the street starts to chirp, signalling us to cross. “What about?” Aki starts as we walk. She's persistent, I'll give her that. She refuses to take no for an answer. I suppose that's a good thing, in a way. I just hope she doesn't turn out anything like Ms. Class President from Yamaku.

“About the future. About what kind of young woman you'll grow up to be.”

“But I don't wanna be old!”

I stifle a snicker. You and me both, kid. I won't be surprised if I catch a gray hair tomorrow morning with all this worrying I'm doing. “You might not want to, but you have to. It's part of life.”

“Nuh-uh! I'll stay young forever, like those kids in that movie with the pirate and the crocodile.”

“You mean the Lost Boys?”

“Yeah, those! Who wouldn't want to be a kid forever? So much time to run and play with Moms and Dads... It's a dream come true!”

I hope you hold onto that playful spirit, Aki. It's what I like most about you. “It does sound nice, doesn't it? Maybe I can help you figure out the secret to eternal life?” I make sure to add a sing-song tone to my voice.

She giggles heartily, excited by my cooperation in whatever scheme she's plotting. “It'd be a good place to start~.”

“Well, then, I'll make sure to have my lackeys started on it first thing in the morning.” Her jumping is so fervent that I swear she could clear a hurdle as high as my knees.

“You promise?”

“Pinky promise.” As if I haven't made enough promises today already.

It's not much longer until we approach Aki's elementary school. It's short, stocky on each end, and only one floor. Just big enough to accomodate all the classrooms needed for their students, small enough to get around easily for people of all shapes and sizes. Given that they house six whole grades here, the latter is almost a necessity.

I just stand there, at the foot of the steps with my daughter, in awe. She doesn't say anything. This is it. This is where I turn her loose on the world, in some sense. I look down at her. She's grabbing at the straps on her backpack, elbows chicken-winged on the sides of the canvas. Her eyes seem to quiver a little bit. I didn't expect her to be completely over her apprehension just yet.

“You ready?” I ask her, breaking the silence.

She sighs deeply. “Yeah, I think so.”

“Alright. Then... I'm ready, too.” Not entirely, but I'll manage. I am strong. Hanako has already let her go earlier today. Why can't I do the same?

I take Aki's hand once more for the day, guiding her up the steps and to the massive wooden door marking the entrance. Our footsteps are slow, not wanting the moment to end. But it must end, and not just by government mandate. It must end because this is her first step to growing up. This is her first mountain to climb.

I'm excited to see what kind of young woman comes out on the other side.

I kneel on the ground once we reach the door, adjusting the straps of her backpack, just to have something to do. “Okay...” I whisper. “You're all set. I'll be back at 1600 sharp to pick you up, got it?”

She nods her head, tears tugging at the corners of her eyes. She leaps forward, throwing her arms around my neck. I wrap my arms around her tiny frame, patting her on the shoulder a few times as I hold back my own tears. We stay like that for a while. I'm not sure how long. A few minutes, perhaps?

I glance at my watch: 07:49. She needs to get to her first class. I push at her shoulders, hoping to pry her away from me. She obliges, if unwillingly. One of my fingers strokes her cheek, brushing a stray droplet from her eyes. “You're a big girl, Aki,” I say, my voice cracking at her name. My lips meet her forehead. “I believe in you.”

She smiles, and I rise up to my feet. “Now, go show 'em what it means to be an Ikezawa.”

“Oh, oh! That reminds me.” Um... reminds her of what, exactly? “When are you and Mommy gonna get married?”

Well. That question came out of the blue. But it's odd... I was just thinking the same thing. “Why do you ask?” I shove my hand into the bag hanging on my shoulder. My fingers fumble around its contents for what really matters: a small box, covered in velvet.

“Just curious, is all.”

I sigh, thinking I have the dots connected. “Did your mother put you up to this?” I'm honestly not even sure how Hanako would've found out. I bought the damn thing yesterday, and it went straight into my bag.

“Mm-mm, I swear! And I never break a pinky promise!” That enthusiasm again. And honesty, too? She's something else.

“Alright, I'll take your word for it,” I resign, motioning her to head inside.

“But you didn't answer the question!” she cries, just as I start turning around to race down the steps. Dammit, I was hoping I could get away first.

I twist around, giving her a thumbs up. “I'll get back to you on that.” The smile on her face is small from so far away, but instantly recognizable. Excitement. Her and me both.

The door closes, and she's on her own. I would still be sad, but she caught me off guard. Good thing, too. I'd hate showing up at Hanako's office with red lines streaking down my cheeks. I check my watch once more: 07:53.

I've got a train to catch.

northernlight
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Now with epilogue, 9/15

Post by northernlight » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:17 pm

A very nice read. The story leaves the possibility of more to come but it works very well as it stands.

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Trivun
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Now with epilogue, 9/15

Post by Trivun » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:24 pm

This was beautiful. Hanako is certainly my favourite character, and this was such a nice story with a tinge of sadness too, but it fit both the ending and the characters perfectly. I would request even more, even after that epilogue, but that wouldn't be fair, it ends on such a good note, and too much of a good thing isn't always great to have. Needless to say, I loved reading this :D
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George Da Moose
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Now with epilogue, 9/15

Post by George Da Moose » Tue Sep 18, 2012 11:08 pm

That was great. It really was.
What I really enjoyed about this fan fiction was the ending. It didn't feel like a "And they lived happily ever after ending" or a depressing one either. The only way I can think to describe it is "fulfilling". Everything worked out in the end, even though the start wasn't perfect. Now all that's left for Hanako and Hisao is to take life day by day with their daughter.
If you plan on writing more in the future, I'm most certainly interested.

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TheSongofRaven
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Re: One Wish (Hanako, post neutral) [Now with epilogue, 9/15

Post by TheSongofRaven » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:27 am

reading this, remind me back to Forrest Gump. Glad to see precious writing again on this fan section.
"I believe everything like horse race. When you are lose, simply ride the horse again and face any challange"
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