Shin and Hisao catch up along the way to a family restaurant Shin suggested while me and Iwanako try our very best not to say a single word to each other. Didn’t really think about what I would actually say to the girl who dated my boyfriend before me and is, in a way, responsible for us meeting.
She kept close to Shin though didn’t hold his hand, instead looking around every now and then — especially when passing other people. It sucks that she’s become this pariah for something that was ultimately out of her control. Hisao didn’t even know he had a heart condition so how is it her fault?
The four of us eventually find the restaurant and enter, making a beeline for a booth by the window that was just getting cleared. Hisao slides into the booth, close to the window and is mirrored by Iwanako, me and Shin sitting opposite each other.
Then there’s Shin falling out with Mai and Takumi… They seem like nice people so I don’t understand why… Man, this whole situation is a lot more complicated than I imagined. This is why I have, like, two friends. All of this drama…
If I’m honest, it’s a hassle I’d rather do without and that Hisao certainly doesn’t need. I’m getting stressed and I hardly know these guys so god only knows what it’s doing to him! I just wish we could go back to cuddling and fooling around on the couch… That’d be sweeeet~
“Are you o-okay, Rika? You look… well, I don’t w-wanna say weird but that’s pretty much the only word for your face right now.” Iwanako asks with a perplexed chuckle, breaking through my mental fog.
“Hm? Sorry, I was just thinking…” I offer as I look around the booth at the other confused faces. “Wait, did you just call my face weird?”
“Looked like you were in your own little fantasy world there.” Hisao smirks. Does he know what I was thinking about? No, that’d be silly! Doesn’t stop my cheeks from going flush though.
“I wasn’t having a fantasy, Hisao!” I snap defensively, simultaneously making Hisao laugh and making Iwanako and Shin stare at me like I’m a weirdo. Why are you doing this to me, you jerk!? Thankfully a waitress comes along so we can order some food and drinks.
“The milkshakes here are great, Rika; you’ll love them!” Iwanako claps her hands together with a beaming smile — the happiest I’ve seen her so far. She is kinda cute when she hasn’t got her mopey face on.
“Do you come here often then?” I enquire and she nods.
“Yeah! I was going to—” She gestures to Hisao before stopping mid-sentence and shrinking into her seat a little. “Nevermind, it’s st-stupid. Is there a place y-you guys hang out at?”
“The town near Yamaku has a tea room called the Shanghai. Pretty much every student hangs out there.” Hisao explains after a couple seconds, no doubt trying to figure out what Iwanako was going to say. “I’m told you’re not really a Yamaku student until you visit the Shanghai.”
“That sounds nice. Did you g-guys met there?” Iwanako has turned all shy again but she’s asking about us as a couple. Again, another awkward social situation that I didn’t really think about dealing with before coming here.
“More or less.” Hisao chuckles, probably not wanting to tell her we met at the post office. That story is going to haunt this relationship forever, I swear… “Though we’ve spent far more time either at the pool or playing in Rika’s room.”
“Wh-wh-what?!” Iwanako stammers, eyes wide in shock as her face turns crimson. Damn it, Hisao…
“Playing video games in my room.” I clarify, nudging Hisao with my elbow for not doing so himself. “And I’ve kinda been teaching him how to swim.”
“Really? And how’s that going?” Shin asks with a sceptical look.
“Well, I haven’t sunk to the bottom yet…” Hisao scratches his head with a crooked smile. Except that one time you did but better not bring that up…
The conversation drifts between topics; mostly about the school and, between me and Hisao, we cover most of the same questions that Mai and Takumi asked. I’m half way through explaining what clubs we have when my phone vibrates in my pocket.
Excusing myself from the table, I walk towards the entrance and slip outside as I answer.
“Hiii, Rika! It’s Fuuka. How’s it going, girl!?” My friend’s cheerful voice rings from the receiver.
“Hey, Fuuka! It’s going okay, just out to lunch at the minute. How about you?”
“Me, Molly, and Taro are hanging out in Sendai. Say hi, guys!” I hear a couple of familiar voices cry out in the background before Fuuka returns. “Soooo… what you guys been up to?”
“Mostly doing meet-and-greets, really.” I sigh with a weary smile she can’t see. “Hisao’s parents are nice and his friends are cool too but there’s this whole thing going on… Apparently their little group split while Hisao was in the hospital.”
“Sounds rough. Have you met the ex yet?”
“Yeeeeah…” I respond with an audible grimace.
“Do we officially hate her? Are we calling her names?” I can almost see the mischievous smile in her face. I can only imagine the foul-mouthed tirade she’d come out with if I said yes.
“Sorry to disappoint you but she’s actually pretty okay.”
“Awwww… So you won’t be getting into a cat fight? Boooo~!”
“I didn’t say that but let’s hope not. My fight skills are limited to the digital world.” I chuckle, peering through the restaurant windows. “It’s great to hear from you, Fuuka, but I think our food is arriving. I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Sure thing! Give my best to Hisao and hang in there, Rika! We’re all rooting for yoooou!” Fuuka shouts down the phone and follows it up with kissy noises as I close the call. Sheesh, she’s such a handful! And ‘rooting’ for me? Really? I let out a little snort of amusement at the idea of Fuuka cheering me on from across the country. My precious little pervert.
Iwanako was right; this strawberry milkshake is delicious! I’m still savouring it as we leave the restaurant.
“It was nice to see you again, Hisao. I’m glad we could reconnect, despite what I said in my letter.” Iwanako says with a blushing smile, seemingly more comfortable with both me and Hisao.
“Me too. I hope we can do this again soon.” Hisao smiles warmly and offers her a hug with open arms. She looks at me, as if looking for permission. I suck on my milkshake with a smirk; gesturing that she’s allowed with head tilt.
I can’t get all jealous at this. They’ve both been through hell and I’m glad that they can both put the past behind them an—
“What the fuck is this?!”
We all turn to look down the street to the source of the shout; Mai? She storms up to us and Iwanako instantly disappears from beside Hisao, shielding herself with Shin.
“What are you doing, Hisao? How can you even look at her after what she did to you?” Mai’s face can’t seem to decide whether it wants to express confusion or anger.
“We were about to go our separate ways after a nice afternoon…” Shin responds in a defensively snarky manner. “But I guess that was too much to ask for, huh?”
“Shut up, Shin!” Mai sneers, Shin scoffing back at her and muttering. “Yeah, haven’t missed hearing that.”
“Mai, look, calm down. We were just talking.” Hisao explains, placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder to reassure her.
“She almost killed you, Hisao! Why would you want to talk to her?” Mai asks, almost pleadingly. I glance at Iwanako and she’s not looking great. Shaking almost like she did the other day.
“Because I wanted to speak to her, Mai. Because I wanted her to know that I didn’t blame her.”
“See? Even Hisao doesn’t blame her! It wasn’t her fault, Mai!”
“I told you to shut up!” Mai growls at Shin, who doesn’t seem to want to back down either. I guess this is kinda how their friendship has always been; that’s my impression from what Hisao told me at least.
“Shin, I can handle this.” Hisao places his hand on Shin’s chest to stop him. “Mai. It wasn’t Iwanako’s fault. It was a complete accident!”
“But she still… You were in the hospital for months, Hisao!”
Iwanako begins shaking her head, hands tight to her chest. She looks at me with wide fearful eyes before bolting in the opposite direction.
“‘Nako!” Shin calls out and I push my milkshake into his hands.
“Look after Hisao! I’ll get her.” I call out, giving chase.
“Be careful!” I hear Hisao behind me and smile. What’s the worst that could happen?
“A-are y-you okay, Rika?” Iwanako stupidly asks and all I can do is wheeze in response while bracing myself against my knees. Oh god, I think I’m dying… We ran, like, less than half a block — why does it feel like I ran laps with Ibarazaki?
“Y-you sh-should probably sit down…” Iwanako guides me to a nearby bench and I lean over my knees like I’m gonna throw up. Not ruling the possibility out.
“You… Run… Fast…” I gasp between deep breaths. Iwanako takes a seat beside me and rubs my back gently.
“I’m on-I was on the track team. I’m guessing y-you’re not in a sports club?” She says with a bemused little smile.
“Surprisingly, no.” I choke out a laugh, resting my back against the bench. “Damn. I’m really out of shape.”
“I thought you swam every day?”
“Ehhhh, more like float lazily and think about stuff.” I admit with an embarrassed expression. I look around us, to get my bearings, and realise we’re next to the Meguro river. Hisao said he was going to bring me here and I have to admit, it’d be awfully romantic but here I am; sweaty and tired with Hisao’s panicked ex-girlfriend instead. Just my luck.
“Are you alright now?” Iwanako asks and I give her a little thumbs up. She smiles before looking down and fussing with her skirt. “Rika? Ummm, if you don’t mind me asking…”
I raise an eyebrow at her and her head shrinks into her shoulders.
“Wh-what is your, um… thing?” Heh, she’s the only one of Hisao’s friends to just come out and ask me.
“I’ll save you the boring details but I have a heart condition. Kinda like Hisao’s but I’ve known about mine all my life.” I explain carefully but it still shocks Iwanako.
“Th-Then why d-d-did you chase a-a-after me!? You c-could have… Oh no… And it would b-be my fault again! God, I’m so fucking stupid!” She grips her black hair tightly in balled fists as she stutters.
“I’m fine, ‘Nako. Look, I’m okay! Please don’t freak out again.” I move to comfort her with a wide smile.
“B-B-But…” She sniffs as she looks up at me with reddened eyes.
“Takes a lot more than a bit of running to knock me down!” I giggle and she gives me a courtesy smile before staring at the pavement again. “At least it put some colour in my cheeks, right?”
Iwanako looks at me again, tilts her head curiously but then laughs. “Yeah… A little bit! Is the white hair and pale skin part of your condition?”
“Nah, separate deal entirely. I’m Albino.” I smile and Iwanako claps her hands over her mouth in shock. Wh-what did I say?
“Oh my god, I’m soooo sorry!” She grabs my hands tight as she turns crimson, continuing to ramble. “I wasn’t making fun of your skin colour. I swear I’m not a racist!”
“Wh-what?” I… Has she snapped? Is she bipolar or something?
“I didn’t even realise you were a foreigner; your Japanese is amazing!”
What the hell is she…
“What’s Albania like?”
Oh my god, Hisao, you dodged a bullet with this one…
After explaining what an Albino is to Iwanako and after she stopped apologising for the misunderstanding, we chatted for a little bit before I received a call from Hisao. On our way to meet him, Iwanako went quiet again.
I never thought I would end up baby-sitting this girl. I expected a love rival or a femme fatale but, as it turned out, Iwanako is kind of a sweetheart. She expressed a small amount of happiness that Hisao ignored her letter and admitted that she was scared to see him again in case she triggered another attack.
Strangely, I’m glad this little escapade kinda worked out for the both of them. Life is short enough but even more-so for me and Hisao and I’m happy that he could resolve things with Iwanako. And after hearing her story, she seems happier knowing Hisao doesn’t hate her.
With whatever time we have left here, maybe we can change the minds of Mai and Takumi too and help make sure Iwanako doesn’t get bullied anymore.
“There you guys are!” Hisao calls out as we round the corner. He’s standing outside the restaurant still but with neither Mai or Shin to be seen. He smiles wearily at us with holding a cup tray with three to-go cups in it.
“Where’s Shin?” Iwanako asks, looking around as we stop in front of Hisao.
“He… left. Mai was getting all hot-headed and Shin just kept pushing her buttons and they both kind of stormed off.” He frowns. “At a certain point, you weren’t even what they were arguing about. I’d forgotten what they were like.”
Oddly, Iwanako laughs as she takes the cup Hisao offers to her.
“I wish those two would just admit their feelings. It would save so much drama…” She sighs with a wistful smile before sucking on her straw.
“What do you mean admit their feelings?” I ask, taking the next proffered drink.
“Mmmm! Perfect. Thank you, Hisao!” Iwanako grinned at my boyfriend and he blushes. “Didn’t Shin tell you?”
I look at Hisao, who shrugs, and we both shake our heads at Iwanako. We begin walking as she goes into further detail.
“Shin likes Mai! He always has! Why do you think he argues with her so much?” She laughs and I look at her incredulously. Is this her being ditzy again?
“You know how little boys pull girls’ pigtails because they like them? It’s the same with those two! Conflict and winding each other up is one of the major things they have in common.”
“That’s… one explanation for it, I suppose.” I offer cautiously.
“Mai and Shin?” Hisao furrows his brow in confusion. “Why didn’t I pick up on that?” Iwanako giggles at his confusion, drawing our attention again.
“Oh, Hisao… You’re absolutely clueless when it comes to this stuff.” She blushes while looking down. “You didn’t know I liked you until I confessed.”
“I, uh, I guess that’s true…” He mutters, visibly flustered.
“So Mai and Shin, huh?” I loudly proclaim. Okay, feeling a little bit jealous now…
“Stranger things have happened.” Iwanako comments, giving me a coy smile. Is she doing this on purpose now? Have I misjudged her?
“Thank you for today, Hisao. It was great to see you again.” She says, stopping at an intersection that I vaguely recognise. If we keep walking straight, we’ll be heading back to Hisao’s house but she splits off to the left. “I guess I’ll see you around?”
“We’ll be here for a few more days so yeah, I’m sure you will.” He responds with a warm smile.
“And thanks for coming after me, Rika. It was nice getting to know you.” She says to me.
“No problem.” I smile and nod in her direction before she spins on her heels and walks away from us, sipping on her drink. We watch her for around thirty seconds before moving on.
We hold hands all the way back to the Nakai household. When we get back, we collapse onto the sofa in each other’s arms. It’s not even 3pm and I feel like we’re both ready for bed.
“I feel like I could sleep forever…” Hisao mutters, squeezing me as tight as his tired arms will allow. I’m happy to do the same, nuzzling into his chest.
“Welcome to my world.” I chuckle quietly. The room is silent barring our tired breathing, both content with some quiet after an exciting day. After everything that happened, after all the things that could have gone wrong didn’t… I’m just so happy to be in Hisao’s arms.
Last edited by Sharp-O
on Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:50 am, edited 2 times in total.