The Paradox of Attraction

Thwarted Gameplan

Tokiya: Thwarted Gameplan

She should have ducked out of the bullet's general direction. It would have been perfectly logical to do a back flip or run for the nearest refuge, after seeing the gun aimed straight at your face. She was always so swift, surely, evading a bullet was no mean feat. The moment she possessed her safety, she should have fled out of the lane and left me to deal with those crooks.

Otherwise, she would not be lying here, looking like she had lost all vital signs of life.

She angered me. Stupid girl, if only she had been more heedful, if only, when that lout pointed his weapon at my neck, she had not wasted that precious, fleeting moment she could have utilized to escape by looking at me as if she feared for my life… then perhaps I would not be standing here, looking at her and feeling like I was the one close to death.

I pressed a hand to my temple, suddenly exhausted. The progression of events 2 hours ago replayed in my mind.

"Mikagami, you're such a nag." she choked out between short breaths, her dark blue eyes clouded with a far-away look.

I shivered when she raised a hand and pressed it to my cheek. "Seriously, Mi-chan. I'm not going to die."

Her last words. A promise.

The bullet had hit her right shoulder. The doctor gave her painkillers which had a drowsing side effect. He told me she'd be asleep for the next four hours.

A lump formed in my throat. I reached for her hand.

From now on, I'll do whatever it takes to make sure you're never hurt again. Even if it means letting you go.

I woke up when she fidgeted. Our fingers were intertwined.

"Hi, Mi-chan. You slept okay?" I found her slightly propped up on pillows, a silly grin on her face.

I was on my feet. I placed one hand on the curve of her neck and leaned in closer. "Thought I was gonna lose you."

"So it cost me an injured shoulder and a trip to the hospital for you to realize you don't want to lose me, iceberg?" Now she was the one smirking.

"Not funny." I reprimanded and pressed my forehead against hers. I gazed deeply into her eyes.

Her eyes widened and she looked uncertain. "You make me feel funny." I could feel her breath on my lips.

I brushed my nose against hers.

"I am absolutely serious about my next move." My thumb caressed her lower lip.

I woke up with a start.

It was just a dream. A cruel dream. Mocking me, taunting me, tempting me with what I could not have. What I chose to lose.

I sat on the edge of her bed where I had a good view of her beautiful face. Her eyes remained close. "Fuuko," I spoke her name as if it were the most sacred name in the world. "Will you forgive me because I couldn't protect you properly?"

The only response coming from her was the steady rise and fall of her chest.

"Because I can't forgive myself." I said, feeling something wet spilling from the corners of my eyes.

Time passed. Maybe an hour or two. I wasn't sure but I was still watching her.

Her eyelashes flickered for a moment then parted to reveal glazed shades of cobalt blue. "M…Mikagami? That you? Where am I?"

A wave of relief rushed through my body. Standing up, I ambled to her side from my position by the window. "Hospital, wind brat."

Her brow furrowed and a wounded look was etched on her face. That was all it took for me to want to abandon the plan and confess how I truly felt.

But she released a gasp of pain.

Wrong move, Mikagami.

Reaching out reflexively to touch her injured shoulder, she tried to press the bandage wrapped around it. Her face twisted as if she was experiencing a fresh new wave of pain.

I couldn't watch this. I'd rather kill myself. "I should call a nurse."

Then she looked at me sadly. "No. Come here. I want to talk."

I looked at her warily then edged closer.

She gave me a certain look, then threw both arms around my waist and embraced me.

"Fuuko, your wound!" I was alarmed.

She laughed cheekily. "Don't worry. It's all good." she sounded like Fuuko the fighter in the Dark Arts tournament that I knew in High School. "Thank you for being there when I woke up." She gave me a half smile. "I'll have to return the favor some day. You're a good friend."

I gritted my teeth. Yeah, let's just be friends and not make things complicated.

"Yo! It's my favorite iceberg!" she said when I saw her the next day. She looked typically Fuuko. Jeans. A plain white shirt. Converse sneakers. Hair flowing down her shoulders. Didn't stop my heart from skipping a beat at the sight of her. I could see the bandages peeking out from her wounded shoulder.

"What are you doing here?"

She knows that I know her first class that day just ended and my waiting for her outside her classroom was intentional.

"Being a good friend."

"You are a good friend." she started.

"Let's not debate about friendship." Please. "Just give me your bag, Kirisawa. I'll walk you to your next class."

She gave a low growl and passed me her backpack. A little too hard.

"And you're doing this because?"

I softened a little. "I want to make sure you recover in the quickest possible time before the semester ends."

"This feels so weird, Mi-chan, and so unlike you. Ever since the accident you've been treating me like..." she looked like she was trying to catch a word for it.

"A princess, Kirisawa?" I smirked.She crinkled her nose and threw up her hands in frustration.

"I don't wanna be a princess! I wanna be a bad ass heroine who goes around putting the fear of death in the villains and making them cry uncle -"

I sighed and cupped a hand to raise her chin. This girl was going to be the death of me. I took her chin with one hand and stared straight into depths of cobalt blue.

"Then let me be the heroine's henchman who's got her back."

Her eyes widened, maybe because of my words or the proximity.

"Just say thank you, Kirisawa." I smirked.

"T-thanks, Mi-chan." her lips quivered.

I removed my hand from her face, satisfied.

It was eight in the evening and I was sitting on a long elegant couch at the Kyoko Hotel lobby with Fuuko who looked gorgeous in an emerald green blouse and white slacks. Aika Fumiko would meet us any minute now. She was rising to stardom as one of the youngest Japanese divas who found her way to Broadway.

"Mi-chan, I'm so nervous. Do you know that I have this small girl crush on Aika?"

I felt uncomfortable. Did she know...

I dismissed my thoughts and said something else. "I figured. You were so persistent about interviewing her."

"And I appreciate how indulgent you were. You even took care of communications." She looked at me like I was the genie who just granted her greatest wish.

I nodded. "I mentioned that both of us are big fans. She was gracious enough to invite us to her dinner concert here after the interview."

"You know I'm still overwhelmed about this. I mean, I know she has rehearsals, gigs, concerts and all. And who agrees to be interviewed before a big show? She's got a golden heart. I think this will be my favorite interview."

"She's a pro. Any guesses as to which character in literature she'd be mirroring?"

"I think it's Christine from The Phantom of the Opera." Fuuko said.

Kirisawa was really smart."We'll see." I said.

Or you'll see, Fuuko.

"Ohmygosh, here she comes." I felt Fuuko's nails dig into the skin of my right arm. She pulled me to my feet.

I followed the direction of her gaze and saw Aika in a long sleeved red-velvet gown, her hair tied in a tight bun, walking towards us.

A knot formed in my stomach.

Our eyes met. She crossed the lobby to our location in long, graceful strides, never taking her eyes off me. "Tokiya Mikagami." she said as she stood before us in all her glory. She reached out to give me a kiss on the cheek.

I watched Fuuko from the corners of my eyes. She looked bewildered.

"Aika, this is Fuuko." I placed a hand on Fuuko's back and pushed her forward. A stupefied Fuuko extended her right hand to our guest. "Hi!"

Aika shook her hand. "So you're Fuuko." She said with a veiled look on her eyes.

"Yes. I'm a freshman Meteorology student at Tokyo U. Also your biggest fan." She smiled openly.

Aika smiled back, then gave me a coquettish look. "Let's take a seat." She took the smaller couch in front of ours.

"Fuuko, I also went to Tokyo U. I'm a fresh grad, a Political Science major."

"She was my senior." I explained.

"Yes. On the surface. Does she know?" She raised a brow.

"I'm afraid you won't let the evening go by without telling her." I felt mild dread, even if I had anticipated this.

She clapped her hands. "I knew I'd enjoy this meeting."

Aika turned to Fuuko. "Fuuko, your friend here... he broke my heart." she said with an amused expression on her face.

Fuuko gaped at me. "You did what?"

I took a deep breath. "Aika, I had hoped you would stop seeing me as a jerk. I did not break your heart. I let you go."

Aika nodded and looked at Fuuko. "I stopped blaming him. Without that, I wouldn't have known all this." she spread her arms out. "This was my dream, Fuuko. He did not steal that away from me. He wasn't a thief."

Fuuko looked like she wanted to debate, but kept her tongue in check.

"Anyway, past is past." Aika waved one hand dismissively. She turned to Fuuko. "Tokiya said you're here to interview me. Well, I'm all yours, sweetheart."

I could predict, by knowing her, that from that moment I would just fade into the background.

A round of applause filled the function hall after Aika finished a soaring rendition of My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music. The small orchestra began the introductory bars for As If We Never Said Goodbye from Sunset Boulevard.

I looked at the purple haired woman sitting beside me who had yet to say a word.

"Are you enjoying the evening?" I asked tentatively. "You haven't touched your dinner yet." I gestured to her plate which contents looked cold.

I, on the other hand, had devoured my share of steak.

She threw me an accusing look. "You didn't tell me she was your ex. That was unfair."

I almost choked. How is it unfair? I almost asked. Saying that might probably have caused her to walk out on me. So, "I'm sorry I didn't mention it to you earlier." I tried to catch her gaze.

She looked away. "Are you over her?"

The straightforward question and lack of courtesy would have upset any man, but I think I knew where this was coming from.

"Why'd you ask?" I said in a playful tone.

She looked like she was holding back tears. "You arranged the interview and you kept your secret from me on purpose because you wanted me to meet her. Is that it?"

I was surprised by the edge in her voice. I placed a hand on her lap. "No, Fuuko. Please don't be upset. If anything, I wanted her to meet you."

She looked away sharply.

Another round of applause filled the air.

"Thank you." Aika said from the microphone. "I have a friend in the audience, Mr. Tokiya Mikagami. He knows that I have my roots in soul music. So I'd like to do a mash-up of broadway and soul to dedicate this next song to Tokiya and Fuuko, who I have learned to love and trust in a short while."

The orchestra started playing.

"And I'd like to invite everyone to the dance floor."

"Come on." I told Fuuko.

"What?" she said.

"You heard her. Let's dance." I pulled her hand and dragged her towards the dance floor. It was starting to fill up with people.

"Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me."

I took her left hand put it on my waist. Then I took her right hand and filled the space between her fingers with mine. I swayed her in time with the music.

"Haven't you noticed
Suddenly I'm bright and breezy?
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I'm learning about you
Day by day."

The rhythm changed into something slower.

"We're just friends, aren't we? You've got yours, I've got mine and friends are all we ever could be."

A male voice started singing.

"But we're getting to know each other a little too well..."

I looked on stage to see a tall, thin man in a suit walking towards Aika.

Aika looked ecstatic. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome on stage my fiance, Hajime Arata!"

The crowd burst into cheers.

We're starting to show our feelings
And people can tell
Ev'ry time that your eyes meet mine
I light up like a neon sign
Yes, We're getting to know each other
A little too well...

"I suppose you can applaud now." I teased her.

She threw me an embarrassed look. "I'm so silly!"

I chuckled, pulling her flush against me.

"It's just one of the things I love about you. Fuuko..." I said against her cheek. "I'm falling in love with you."

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