Chie and Tomoko became fast friends after that molester incident. Tomoko was introduced to Aoi and bonded quickly. They became a trio that could hardly be separated. Today they were chatting in Chie and Aoi's apartment. They were sitting at the table having a good time.
"So you said you were originally from Tokyo?" Aoi asked.
"Yes, my father is a businessman there." Tomoko smiled.
"What are you doing here in Fuka?" Chie asked.
"I wanted some time away from the capital," Tomoko responded, "Also my father and I aren't on good terms."
"So your on bad terms with your old man?" Chie asked.
"Well no, we're not on bad terms but we're not on good terms either." Tomoko smiled.
"I don't get it." Chie raised an eyebrow.
"Chie." Aoi sighed.
"No that's okay, my father began to be like that after my mother had died." Tomoko's eyes flash a sense of sorrow.
"Sorry for your lost." Chie and Aoi responded.
"Don't worry, it happened a long time ago." Tomoko tried to smile.
"Hey, let's go get something to eat." Chie rose from her seat, in weak attempt to change the subject.
Aoi and Tomoko followed after Chie.
Shizuru stopped at a park and took a break on a bench. She watched people go by and felt a stab in her heart when she saw a couple walking by and holding hands. She continued to watch them but looked away when they began to share a small kiss. An image of Natsuki showed up in her mind and she felt her heart drop.
Something then caught her attention. She saw two little girls running and playing on the playground. They looked happy as she gave each other a big smile. Shizuru had a slight smile come to her face. As she watched them play, her mind began to go places kept under a lid.
A young girl with short black hair was walking near an older girl with chestnut brown hair. They we're holding hands and content as could be. The smaller girl looked up at the older girl.
"Will we always be like this?"
"Yup." The older girl smiled.
The younger girl smiled and hugged the older girl. The older girl smiled and hugged back.
"Don't worry, I'll always protect you." The older girl said.
The younger girl smiled and hugged tighter.
A small cry broke Shizuru away from her mind. The younger girl of the two little girls was crying. The older girl hugged the smaller girl, trying to comfort her. Shizuru suddenly saw a vision of the girl with short black hair crying. A shadow began to pull the young girl away. The young girl looked up at Shizuru and extended a hand.
"Please help me!"
The older chestnut girl from Shizuru's memories came out and began to run to the younger girl.
The younger girl screamed as she suddenly disappeared. The older girl fell to her knees and began to cry. Shizuru trembled slightly as the older girl glared up at her.
"Why? You said you would always protect her! You promised her. You promised!"
Shizuru shook her head and took deep breathes as she sat on the bench. Sweat rolled down her forehead as she began to calm down. Feeling relaxed, she rose from the bench and walked away.
Nao looked nervously at her cellphone. On the screen was the number Hinata had given her on one of their friendly meetings. She took a deep breath and was about to hit the green button when all her courage left her. She sighed and laid back on the chair she was in.
There's no way she'll go out with me! Why am I even bothering to call her?
Suddenly her thumb disobeyed her mind and pushed the green button anyway. She panicked as the phone began to ring.
CRAAAP! I can't just hang up now! What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?
"Uh, hey Hinata! How's it going?" Nao nervously asked.
"Oh hey Nao. I'm doing good. So what's up?"
"Uh you know I was,uh just around the neighborhood and you know I was just wondering if...ifyou'dliketogoonadatewithme?" Nao quickly said.
"Wait...what did you say?" Hinata asked.
"Um...would you like to go see a movie or go get coffee with me?"
The other end of the silent. Nao began to panic until she hear Hinata speak up again.
"You mean like go on a date?"
"Um, if you want it to be then sure."
Nao could hardly believe her luck.
"Great! So there's this new movie that came out that I've been dying to watch. Want to go watch it?"
"Cool, so meet me a the usual place at 5:00?"
"Alright, see you then."
Nao ended the conversation and had a huge smile on her face.
This is the best day ever!
Reality stuck and Nao began to scratch her head.
...What am I gonna wear?
Chie, Aoi and Tomoko sat in they're booth and waited for they're food to be brought.
"So you ever gonna go back to Tokyo?" Chie asked.
"I'm not sure, maybe when I'm finished with college." Tomoko responded.
"The time will come faster than you think." Aoi said.
"Yeah, so I've heard..."
The couple turned their head to a chestnut haired woman.
"Oh wow! It's been such a long time." Aoi smiled.
"It has been." Shizuru smiled.
"Hey sit down, I want you to meet Tomoko Kobayakawa." Chie pointed to the empty seat.
"Very well then." Shizuru sat near Tomoko.
"Nice to meet you." Tomoko smiled.
"The pleasure is all mine."
"So what brings you to these parts?" Chie asked.
"I'm just researching for this major paper I have." Shizuru responded.
"Ew, what's it about?" Aoi asked.
"I have to find and interview people from Tokyo. I found one but I need at least 5 people."
"Well your luck is awesome. Tomoko here is from Tokyo." Chie smiled.
"Really?" Shizuru looked at Tomoko.
"That's right, so I'll help." Tomoko smiled.
"If you don't mind?"
"Not at all."
"Okay, I'm just going to ask you a few questions," Shizuru brought out a packet and a pen, "Up until now, have you always lived in Tokyo?"
"Alright...Do you have any siblings or cousins?"
"I have a few cousins, but I have no siblings."
"Okay, how old are your cousins?"
"23, 19, 14 and 7."
"Okay last question. We're any of them adopted?"
"We'll my 7 year old cousin was but the others were not."
Shizuru capped her pen and put the packet away in her bag. She smiled at Tomoko and rose up from her seat.
"Hey where you going?" Chie asked.
"Kanin na but I have to go. Chat with you later." Shizuru walked away.
"Is she from Kyoto?" Tomoko asked hearing Shizuru's accent.
"Yeah." Aoi smiled.
Shizuru went back to the apartment and sighed. She went to the table and pulled out the packet. She took out Tomoko's picture and with a permanent marker, marked a large X. She put Tomoko's picture and information near another X out picture.
"Still no luck." Shizuru said to herself.
She looked at the picture of the first marked out picture.
Shizuru walked into a building and went to the front desk. The secretary looked up at her.
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, I need to speak with Ms. Aono."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"Name and time please."
"Fujino at 2:35"
The secretary looked at her computer screen.
"Okay Ms. Fujino, I'll give Ms. Aono a call. Please take a seat."
Shizuru slightly bowed before taking a seat. A few moments later a woman in a business suit showed up. She looked at Shizuru and smiled.
"So you Ms. Fujino?"
"Please follow me then."
They walked into a room where Shizuru took a seat on the opposite side of the desk. The woman sat in a chair at the desk.
"So Ms. Fujino, how may I help you?"
"Ms. Aono, if I may ask a few questions?"
Shizuru asked the questions and Ms. Aono answered them. Shizuru slightly bowed to her and began to leave.
"Ms. Fujino you say this is for a report but forgive me, I believe you looking for someone."
Shizuru stopped dead in her tracks. She turned around and looked back at Ms. Aono.
"Unfortunately this is just for a project." Shizuru responded.
"Say what you like, but if you need any help I hope I can be of assistance."
Shizuru came back from her thoughts and looked at the three remaining pictures. She reached inside her jacket and brought out a picture. She smiled as she saw an older girl with chestnut hair holding a younger girl with raven hair. A tear fell on the picture and Shizuru wiped it away.
"I'll find you...I promise this time."
Mai entered a coffee shop and was welcomed by the fresh smell of coffee grinds. Kisara looked up from the cup she was cleaning.
"Hi, what can I get you?"
"Are you Kisara?"
"Thank you so much for taking Natsuki in." Mai smiled.
"Are you her friend or girlfriend?" Kisara raised an eyebrow.
"No problem, is Natsuki with you?" Kisara asked.
"Yes, don't worry I'll take Natsuki in."
"Okay, tell her if she need's a place to crash she can always come back to my place." Kisara smiled.
"I'll tell her, here take this." Mai handed Kisara a paper.
"It's a map and address of my ramen shop. Come by I'll give you a free bowl for helping Natsuki."
"Thank you so much." Kisara smiled as she pocketed the paper.
"See you later." Mai waved as she left the shop.
"You can either take the bed or sofa." Mai said as Natsuki entered her apartment above her ramen shop.
"Thanks for taking me in. I'll start looking for a place tomorrow." Natsuki put her bag down.
"That Kisara girl is really nice." Mai said as she took off her jacket.
"Yeah...she reminds of Shizuru though..." Natsuki sat on the sofa.
"I hate to ask but why did Shizuru break up with you?" Mai asked as she took off her apron.
"She said she didn't want my involved in her life anymore."
"A bit harsh." Mai sat down near Natsuki.
"But you know, I'm more confused now that I think about it."
"What happened?" Mai asked.
"Well..when Shizuru said she wanted to break up with me, she had that mask on her. You'd think that her real emotions would show up in that kind of conversation."
"I don't know. Should I go see her?"
"So long as you don't come back drunk."
"I won't...I don't know where to find her though."
"She should be back at your apartment no?"
"Maybe...should I really go see her?"
"It seems like you have unanswered questions right? Well then I say yes."
Natsuki sighed heavily as she sat back into the sofa. Mai slightly smiled at her.
"I'm gonna go get you a pillow and blanket." Mai rose from the sofa.
Natsuki watched Mai walk away. She rose up from the sofa and knelt down near her bag. She opened it and picked up a wrapped box. It was signed to Shizuru from Natsuki.
Shizuru...what happened between us?
Nao and Hinata were sitting in the movie theater together. It was thirty minutes in the movie when Nao began to look at Hinata's hand. She felt her palm sweating and wiped them on her skirt.
I want to hold her hand, but how? Is that moving too fast? Oh come on its just holding hands its not like I'm gonna fu-
"Hey Nao are you okay?' Hinata noticed Nao's face turn bright red.
"Uh, I'm fine." Nao rubbed her hands together.
Hinata smiled as she took a hold of Nao's hand. Nao blushed as she looked up at the smiling Hinata. She smiled back but didn't expect Hinata to come closer to her face.
"No need to be nervous Nao. I like you too."
Nao's eyes widen when Hinata's lips touched her own. They shared a slightly passionate kiss as Nao put her hands around Hinata's neck. Nao smiled when she heard Hinata gasped when she traced Hinata's lip with her tongue.
"You want to stay and watch the movie?" Hinata asked when they parted.
"What movie?" Nao smiled.
Hinata smiled when they stood up and walked out of the theater holding each others hands.
"So your place or mine?" Nao asked.
"Which ever place is closer." Hinata smiled.
Shizuru put the cap on her pen and looked back at her notes. She mapped out lines on a map and had a photo on certain locations. She sighed as she rose up from her chair.
Might as well get some sleep..or at least try
Shizuru was at the doorway of the bedroom when she stopped and stared at the empty bed. She slowly walked around the bed to get her night clothes. As she slowly laid down on her right side on the bed, she stared at the other side of the bed. She continued to stare at the empty space until her eyes couldn't stay open.
"Good night Natsuki..."
Natsuki was falling asleep on the couch. She turned to her left side and stared at the sofa. She closed her eyes and whispered.