Chapter 7: The Shop

Erin was sleeping peacefully.

However, that ended when her phone ringing quite loudly, pulled her from her sleep.

She jolted up, looking for it. She glanced at the clock. 6 am? Who in the hell is calling her so early on a Saturday?

She found the device under her pillow and answered it. "Hello?" She asked groggily, rubbing her eye.

"Erin! I'm sorry, if I knew you were still sleeping I wouldn't have called!"

Erin winced at Ayame's loud voice over the phone. Who has this much energy so early? "Ayame… What's up?" She asked, trying to wake up.

"I just wanted to make sure we were still on for today! I've been preparing for days dear. I pulled out all the stops. I of course am the most talented seamstress in all of Japan. That's a simple fact. I'm not just making that up, that's going off of statistics. Now of course because it's you and you're Hatori's fiancé I promise I will do the most amazing work!" He went on and on.

Erin blinked. Fuck that was today. "Yeah, of course we're still on for today."

"Great! I closed the whole shop just for you! I'll see you at 11:00 o'clock sharp. Don't worry, I'll cover lunch!" He said happily. "Don't even think about being late alright? Alright I'll see you then my dear!' He said before hanging up.

Erin stared at her phone blankly. Oh she was going to regret this.

The bathroom door opened and Hatori walked out, a towel wrapped around his waist. He looked at her surprised. "I'm surprised to see you awake. Did you have a bad dream?" He asked, leaning against the door frame.

She looked over at him before having to look away as her face started to warm. There was only so much her brain could process this early in the morning.

"No, Ayame called me asking if I was still coming to his shop today." She said plopping back down on the bed

"Ah, I did try to warn you." He said with a small laugh as he walked to her side of the bed.

She sighed. "He's so excited. I couldn't be mean like that."

"You're always so worried about everyone else and what they want. You should focus on your own wants for once." He said placing a hand on either side of her and leaning over her.

Erin looked up at him, butterflies assaulting her and her breath hitching. Her eyes quickly glanced down his bare chest, before looking back up to his face. His hair was still wet from his shower and Erin could smell the soap he had used. It was the same one he always used, so it was a scent she was very familiar with. It was comforting.

The wanting feeling she got around him bubbled up inside her. Maybe she could just… No. She couldn't ask.

She took a breath to regain her slipping composure. She couldn't get distracted.

"Yeah well, I do want Ayame to make it. He's good at what he does." She said, prying her eyes off of him.

He smiled and kissed her forehead before standing back up. "I guess he is. Just don't let him go too overboard. I know how he can be. Are you sure you don't want me to go with you? I'm sadly the only person he really listens to, and I don't know how I feel about you being there alone."

She sat up. "No! You can't see my dress! That would ruin it. Besides I won't be alone. Jirou's going with me."

At this Hatori looked genuinely surprised. "Jirou is taking you to Ayame's shop?" He said before trying to hold in a laugh, but he failed.

"What's so funny?" She asked, tilting her head.

He waved her off, and walked into the closet. "It's nothing. I just wish I could see Jirou's reaction to Ayame." He said as he got dressed.

Erin laughed slightly. "Yeah it should be interesting." She said, stretching. "He keeps saying how he wants to meet your family and know more about them, but I don't know how much I can really tell him."

"Why do you say that?" He asked, walking out and buttoning his shirt.

"Well I don't really know much about your family in the first place. I also… Well you know with the whole curse thing and the incident with Akito…" She said trailing off. "I know Jirou is just curious, but he has a tendency of being a little too curious for his own good. Especially since he found out about, you know. I think he's almost afraid to not look deep into things now." She said, before her face warmed. She was stumbling over all the thoughts in her head.

Hatori thought back to day at the pool when Jirou was asking him about his family. He didn't blame him for being curious. After all he was marrying Erin, of course Jirou would want to know what family she was marrying into.

His family… The Sohma family.

His stomach churned as he thought of all the dark twisted secrets held deep in the family, and how it had once been his job to ensure they stayed like that. It seemed that by thinking about it, he could almost feel the chains of the curse that once held him pulling him down.

Yes, pulling him back to the twisted dark life he lived in the ornate prison that was known as the Sohma house.

"Please. Don't erase her memories, I'm begging you!"

One of the many memories that plagued him raced past his mind.

No, he definitely couldn't let Erin and Jirou discover all he had done… He couldn't. Maybe he could-

"Hatori!"

Hatori looked up at Erin still sitting on the bed. She gave him a questionable look. "Are you okay? You kinda zoned out for a sec." She said, walking up to him.

He blinked, before shaking the unwanted thoughts from his head. He wasn't in the dark Sohma house. That wasn't his life anymore.

He was at home with Erin.

His summer. The one who brought so much light to his dark life.

He smiled and pulled her into a hug. "Yes, I'm alright. I apologize."

She looked up at him, clearly not convinced. "You don't have to apologize. I mean I zone out like all the time." She said, shrugging.

"You've gotten better, and don't worry about Jirou. His biggest issue today will be avoiding getting dressed up by Ayame." He said with a slight smile. "Also, don't worry about my family and the curse. It's gone, alright? Jirou and I have already discussed the Akito issue, and I already told him what he needs to know about the Sohmas. There's no need for you to worry about stuff like that." He said, kissing the top of her head and walking out of their room.

Erin thought about his words, as she followed him.

"Is that what you do with me?" She asked, crossing her arms.

He looked at her as he put the kettle on. "What do you mean?"

"Do you only tell me what I need to know?" She asked.

An odd look flashed by his face. Almost as if he was surprised by her question. Like he hadn't been expecting it. He sighed. "Erin, that's not what I meant."

She nodded. "No, I know what you meant. You're saying that Jirou doesn't need to know everything about your family and the curse. I understand that. However, when you say you tell him everything he needs to know, I can't help but wonder if you do the same to me. I mean Hatori, there's still a lot I don't know about you or your family." She said walking up to him. "I feel like there's a lot you're not telling me."

Hatori looked down at her. Of course there was a lot he was not telling her. Things he never wanted her to know.

He looked down at her big brown eyes boring into him, waiting for an answer.

He felt stuck as he searched for the words to answer her without telling her the truth of it all.

It's not that he wanted to lie. He just didn't want her to think he was some kind of monster.

He was her safety, her rock. He kept her steady. He worked very hard these past two years to be that person for her. Always making sure that when she saw him she knew she was safe.

He wouldn't let anything change that.

And if that meant hiding his past from her? Then so be it.

He wasn't going to let the dark Sohma secrets take away his light. It almost took her away once, he wasn't going to let that happen again.

"I'm sorry I worded it wrong. I meant what Jirou needs to know in regards to the curse. I don't see a need in telling him about it considering it no longer is present, and he probably wouldn't believe me anyway." He said plainly before smiling. "And how can you say there's a lot I'm not telling you when you're clearly still hiding things from me?"

She looked at him confused. "What do you mean? I'm not hiding anything."

He lifted her up and sat her on the counter so he could be eye level with her. He leaned in towards her, thinking for a moment. "You've never told me what your favorite color is." He said with a small smile.

She laughed slightly, her cheeks warming. "It's pink, but not like a bright pink. Like a light pink. Like a rose." She said, lacing her fingers with his. "What's your favorite color?" She asked.

"White." He smirked.

She gave him a look. "Oh come on, that's not a real color."

He laughed. "White is a real color." He said letting go of her hand and walking to the cabinet.

She laughed as well. "It's no one's favorite color. Come on, what is it?"

"Alright, it's violet, but don't tell anyone." He said, pulling out their tea cups. "I have a reputation to uphold and people would tease me if they knew I favored such a girly color." He said before giving her a look. "That means no telling Kazu."

She giggled. "Your secret's safe with me. I promise." She said holding out her pinky.

He glanced at her hand briefly before wrapping his pinky around hers. "That's good to know." He said smiling. He kissed her hand before walking back to the kettle.

"Hey Hatori?" She asked.

"Yes?" He answered, pouring the tea.

"What if I don't look good in a wedding dress?" She asked.

He smiled and shook his head. Of course she'd be worried about something like that.

He walked back to her and placed her cup in her hands. "Erin if there is one thing you should know is that you're beautiful. I mean if anything a wedding dress…" He said thinking about it. His face warmed at the idea. She would look breathtaking. "Well a wedding dress would just enhance that." He said, sipping his tea.

"You really think so?" She asked.

"I don't think. I know." He said.

She smiled and continued to talk excitedly about her planned shopping trip.

He smiled as well, content with the way the conversation went.

Sure he felt guilty. He knew she didn't like it when he hid things from her. He learned that lesson the hard way earlier in the year. However, this was different. Yes, the sinister and twisted Sohma family was his burden to bear, not hers.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

The punching bag flew back and rattled with each timed blow.

Just breathe and focus.

Another round of punches. The rhythmic sounds almost soothing.

His final punch landed with a satisfying thud, sending the bag swinging back.

He exhaled as he grabbed his towel to wipe off his face.

The early morning sun shone through the windows of the gym, getting in his eyes. He squinted as he took a swig of his water.

He took a breath before going back to the bag. He raised his hands in front of his face before beginning his timed punches once more.

Each punch sending the bag swinging and rattling.

"Does it owe you money or something?" A familiar voice said from behind him.

He smiled before giving the bag one last good hit. "Maybe it does." Jirou laughed turning back to face his girlfriend.

Her wavy auburn hair was tied up in a messy bun and her green eyes looked up at him, a smile on her face. "I see. Well I figured you'd be at the gym this insanely early in the morning. So I brought you breakfast." She said holding up the bag in her hands.

He smiled and rested his gloved hand on his chest. "Aw Kat. You're an angel, you know that?" He said happily.

She smiled. "Yeah I know." She said, handing him the bag. "Although I don't know how you eat that stuff." She said, making a face.

"What tamago gohan?" He asked, taking his gloves off and unwrapping the gauze around his knuckles.

"Yes!" She laughed. "It's so gross. It's just raw egg on rice." She said.

"That's not true. There's sesame seeds and soy sauce as well." He laughed. He sat down, breaking his chopsticks and scarfing down his food.

"It's still nasty. Raw eggs look like snot." She said matter of factly.

He gave her a smirk. "You really think so?" He said as he sucked up a particularly gooey bit of egg whites into his mouth.

"Ew! You're so gross!" She laughed, smacking his shoulder.

He laughed, rubbing the spot on his shoulder. "Geez girl, you got an arm on you. No need to fight anyone off for you. You can knock 'em out yourself."

"You really think so? Should we go a few rounds? Maybe I'll beat you." She said cracking her knuckles.

"I don't know. I'm fearing for my life here." He said, finishing his breakfast.

She dropped her purse. "Come on. There's no one really even here, no one will witness you getting your ass beat by a girl."

"It wouldn't be a fair fight." He shrugged.

"Oh come on, why wouldn't it be fair?." She said looking over at him.

"Because." He said simply, putting down his dish. "I would just do this." He said before getting up quickly to grab her, throwing her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

She squealed in laughter. "Hey come on, you're all sweaty!" She laughed.

"Oh really? Well you should've thought of that before you started talking up such a big game." He said with a smile.

"Finally found someone you can take in a fight White?"

Jirou's smile vanished at the voice he sadly knew. He placed Kat down and looked over to see Ito and his partner Kato.

"Appears so." Jirou said, crossing his arms.

"Well good. We all need to start somewhere." Ito said with a smile, looking over at Kat. "Is this the sister you're always going on about to Yamamoto?"

Jirou felt his jaw clench. "No. This is my girlfriend Katsumi. Kat, this is Ito and his partner Kato. They're some of the other officers I work with."

Ito laughed and looked back to his partner. "See Kato, I told you White knew the difference between a sibling and a girlfriend."

Kato smirked. "There's a shock."

"But hey, let's not crash their date. It was nice running into you. See you on Monday White." Ito said, patting his shoulder before they walked off.

Jirou could feel his teeth grind. Great. He'd definitely need to find a new gym now.

He hated Ito. He was just a complete asshole. Ito always thought he was right and rarely listened to anyone else's input on anything. He was sexist, misogynistic, and flat out rude. Not to mention he's as bright as a bag of rocks.

He thought back to the dumb comments he had made.

Anger coursed through him. Yamamoto was right about them. No wonder she hated dealing with them.

"I hate that prick." Jirou growled, going over to the punching bag and slamming his fist into it, sending it flying back.

God what he would give for that to be Ito's teeth.

"I swear. Let him make one more goddamn comment I'll-"

"Jirou." Kat interceded, grabbing his hand. "Relax. It's alright. They're just assholes. Don't stoop to their level." She said looking up at him.

He took a deep breath before mumbling something in English under his breath.

He ran a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry about them."

"There's nothing you have to apologize for. Just relax. They're not worth it." Kat said.

"I know." He said, Kat's words calming him down.

"Come on, you have a big day today. You're taking Erin to get her dress right?" She asked.

"Oh yeah, shit that is today. I almost forgot." He said rubbing the back of his neck.

"I figured. You're kind of forgetful. But hey, you have me to remind you." She said with a smile.

"Mm." He said kissing her forehead. "That I do." He said, walking over to pack up his bag.

"So Hatori's cousin owns this shop you're going to?" Kat asked, trying to take his mind off of Ito and his partner.

Jirou nodded and slung his bag over his shoulder. "Yeah. It'll be my first time meeting someone in Hatori's family." He said.

"That's nice."

"Yeah. It's about time. I'm letting the man marry my sister and I still have yet to really figure anything out about the family she's marrying into. I don't know. I like Hatori. I really do. I trust him. I mean that honestly. However… His family situation is rubbing me the wrong way." Jirou said.

"It's understandable. However, maybe he's just not close with them." Kat said, trying to be the voice of reason. Something she was always good at being.

"No it's not that. He was telling me a little while ago that his family is like a clan. Like an old clan." Jirou said.

"Wait. Those still exist?" Kat asked.

"Apparently. You should see the Sohma estate. Erin and Hatori obviously don't live there anymore, but I went to pick up Erin there a few times when they did. The estate is locked up behind this huge wall. It's crazy. I'm honestly starting to fear Hatori's part of some kind of Yakuza or something." Jirou said.

"Oh stop. You're watching too much tv."

Kat laughed, walking out with him.

"I'm serious. There's something off with them. I mean I told you how the head of their family attacked Erin, right?" Jirou asked.

Kat nodded. "The concussion."

"Yeah. Well the family head was never brought up on charges. They never even brought it to the police. Even though Erin was clearly attacked. The hospital by law should've notified the police. There's procedures they have to follow when someone comes in like that. But, they never did. I looked up the records myself. There's more going on there, I just… Can't figure it out." He said.

"Are you sure you're not overthinking the situation?" She asked, holding his hand.

"I don't know. I just don't like when things don't add up." He said.

"I know. But I'm sure it'll be fine." She said, placating him. "What do you think his cousin is like?" She asked.

"Not sure. Probably like Hatori. They're probably all like Hatori. Serious, stern, probably a little stuck up. Honestly, I just want Erin to be okay and have a nice time. She was nervous about going alone, so I hope me being there can help her a little bit at least." He said.

Kat saw the all too familiar worried look on his face.

"I'm sure you being there will help her immensely." She said, giving his hand a squeeze. "I have to say I'm excited for their wedding. They're so good together, and I just love weddings." Kat said excitedly.

Jirou smiled at the thought. "Yes, It should be an amazing time…" He said before trailing off.

"What's wrong?" Kat asked.

"It's kinda stupid." Jirou said, avoiding her gaze.

"You can tell me anything Jirou, you know that." She said.

"I know. It's just… I'm insanely happy for Erin but, her getting married is a little sad. There seems to be a selfish part of me that's still mad Hatori's taking her away…" He said, frowning.

He waved his hands. "But I mean, it's a childish thought. I try to push it away. I told you it was stupid."

"No. I think it's pretty normal. I mean when my dad remarried after my mom passed away… Well I hated her. I thought she was taking my dad from me. It's normal to be wary of change." She said, trying to placate him.

"Yeah I guess you're right." He said smiling. "You and your stepmom get along now?"

She laughed slightly and rubbed the back of her neck. "Actually no. However, that's not the point I was trying to make."

Jirou laughed and shook his head. "Well if that doesn't inspire confidence nothing will." He said with a smile. "Come on, I'll walk you home."

Kat always knew exactly what to say. He always felt better after talking to her.

He wasn't even bothered by Ito and Kato anymore. He would deal with them later.

He allowed himself to be excited for the day ahead of him.

He got to be there for Erin and meet one of Hatori's family members.

Maybe he would be able to understand the Sohma family a little bit more after today.

o-o-o-o-o-o

"So this is it?" Jirou asked, getting off his bike and looking at the shop in front of them.

Erin looked at the address on the piece of paper to confirm. "Yeah. This is it." She said, looking at the sign.

Her nerves grew as she stared at the roses and fancy lettering on the sign.

She felt Jirou next to her. "Is it just me or does it look a little…" He started to say but trailed off.

"Strange?" Erin asked.

He nodded "Yeah. Strange is a good word."

"Well Ayame is kind of a strange person." She sighed before looking up at him. "Are you sure you're okay with being here? I'm sure you have better things you can be doing on your day off." She said.

Jirou shook his head. "No you're actually saving me from apartment hunting."

She laughed. "Oh so you're procrastinating?"

He raised his hands. "Guilty. But come on, I like living rent free with mom. However, she's selling the house soon so I'm kinda getting the boot."

Erin smiled. "Everyone's gotta leave the nest sooner or later. Do you know where you're moving?" She asked as Jirou opened the door for her.

He smiled. "No idea. But don't worry nowhere far. Unlike our sister who is hellbent on moving halfway across the world."

"Well you know how Suki is…" Erin said but stopped as she looked around the shop. It didn't look like a clothing store. It just was a bunch of different fabrics and sewing supplies.

Anxiety rose in her as she feared she walked into the wrong place when a familiar voice called. "Erin is that you?" Ayame's voice called from the back.

"Yeah, it's me." She called.

The door to the back flew open, revealing Ayame dressed in a bright pink traditional tunic that reached his ankles. He seemed to be in the process of braiding his long silver hair.

"Look Mine, here's the blushing bride now, looking as beautiful as ever, might I add!" He exclaimed excitedly. He grabbed her hands. "Dear, it's been far too long! Far too long indeed! I was just telling Mine how I've missed you so much and how we will definitely need to spend lots of time catching up! How have you been? How's Hatori? Being a perfect fiancé I'm sure." He said with a wide smile, his golden eyes bright.

Erin blinked as she processed everything he was saying. He was talking like a mile a minute. "Hatori is good." She said.

"Mine! Did you hear that Hatori is good!" He exclaimed towards the back room.

"I told you so, boss." A voice called back.

"She did tell me. Mine is never wrong. Now Erin, Let me look at you. I've been prepping samples for months for this appointment. To think I get the absolute honor of making Hatori's future wife a wedding dress. It's an absolute dream come true! Now how's the wedding planning going? What colors are you thinking of? Does Hatori want me to make his suit?" He asked, before his eyes finally drifted up to Jirou who was standing behind her.

His face lit up. "Erin! Who is this attractive man you bought with you?"

Erin looked back at Jirou, she had completely forgotten to introduce him. She noticed the shocked look on his face he was trying to hide.

She didn't blame him. Ayame was… Well he was a lot too handle.

"Oh, this is my older brother Jirou." Erin said.

Ayame gave him a huge smile. "Erin! You never told me you had a brother!" He said walking up to him and bowing. "It's an honor to meet you Jirou. My name is Ayame Sohma."

Jirou was at a loss for words.

Hatori had told him this morning when he picked Erin up that his cousin was an 'interesting' person. However, he hadn't been expecting this.

He thought of Hatori. The way he looked, the way he dressed, the way he acted. He was so stern most of the time. Jirou assumed the rest of his family would be the same way.

However this… Guy… Well he and Hatori didn't even look like they came from the same planet, let alone the same family.

"Um… It's nice to meet you as well. It's nice to finally meet someone in Hatori's family. You're the first person I've met so far." Jirou said bowing back.

Ayame thought of this for a second. "Well would you look at that. Now everyone has to live up to me." He said happily before examining him.

"Well Jirou, you have excellent bone structure, and beautiful eyes. Who doesn't love big blue eyes?" Ayame said happily.

"Thank you?" Jirou said, unsure of how to answer.

"Well Erin, what do I owe for the pleasure of getting to meet your gorgeous brother here?" Ayame asked, turning back to her.

"Oh. Well I needed his opinion. Jirou's my best friend, so it's only fitting he comes too." Erin said before her face changed. "I hope it's not a problem. I know I didn't ask first." Erin said nervously.

"Don't be ridiculous. It is not a problem whatsoever. Everything's A okay! Sibling relationships are sacred!" Ayame said clapping. "Now come sit you two. I'll bring us out some tea."

They watched Ayame walk out the room.

Erin released the breath she had been holding. "I'm sorry about him. He just gets a little… excitable."

"No. It's fine. I can handle excitable. Have you met Suki?" Jirou said with a smile.

"I think you'll find Aya is worse than Suki." Erin laughed.

"Well he's completely different from what I expected. I came expecting another Hatori."

"Oh no. Aya and Shigure, well they're like the exact opposites of Hatori. Actually, Hatori has a pretty interesting family. He's the only serious one." Erin said, thinking about the other former zodiac members she met.

Jirou looked genuinely surprised by this. "You don't say?"

Erin laughed slightly. "Oh come on Jirou. Just because you're related doesn't mean you're the same. I mean look at us. Me, you, and Suki are really different."

"Yeah I know. I guess I just expected them to be all stuck up I guess." Jirou said, sitting down.

She sat next to him. "Well there are a lot of people like that in his family, but his closest cousins aren't like that. They're all very kind."

He sighed in relief. "Well that's good to know. I'll have to meet the rest of them sometime soon. I'd like to know more about them."

Erin looked down remembering Hatori's words.

"I've already told Jirou what he needs to know."

She inwardly sighed. She'd have to stop letting it bother her.

However, it did bother her. Hatori was not telling her something. She just couldn't figure out what.

"You and me both." She mumbled.

"I come bringing tea and cakes!" Ayame said, entering back to where they were seated.

Erin looked up to see a woman following happily behind him carrying a tray. Her black hair was in pigtails and she was wearing a poofy pink dress.

"Erin I don't think you've met Mine before." Ayame said happily, gesturing to the woman.

"Oh, um no I haven't met her yet." She said, forcing herself out of her shell. "It's very nice to meet-"

However she didn't finish her sentence. Before she knew it Mine was in front of her. She had a certain gleam in her eyes.

"Wow! You are so adorable! Boss! You didn't say Hatori's fiancé was this cute!" She exclaimed, looking at her face closely.

"Oh yes, Erin is very adorable. The cutest." He said with a smile.

Mine stood her up and examined every inch of her. She clapped her hands in excitement. "Oh! I can't wait any longer! Let's get you dressed up! Boss! Which one are we doing first!"

Ayame laughed. "Ah Mine, you're always the same around cute girls. Well we might as well not waste any time. Put her in that one."

Erin and Jirou exchanged a look.

That one?

"What's that one?" Jirou asked.

Ayame waved him off. "Well if I told you, it would ruin the surprise!"

"Alright boss! That one it is! Come on Erin lets go!" She said excitedly, half dragging her to the changing rooms.

Jirou watched her go.

She would be fine… Right?

He hoped she wouldn't get nervous. However, he didn't need to worry about that. Erin had gotten a lot better.

"You see every time Mine see's an adorable girl she just needs to dress them up. I'm afraid that's just how she is." Ayame said, sipping his tea.

"I see. So you make wedding dresses a lot?" Jirou asked, trying to make polite conversation.

"Oh sweetheart I make anything and everything. Anything anyone desires. I'm in the business of making fantasies a reality. Nurses uniforms, maid outfits, dresses, more erotic costumes, you name it I make it." He said proudly.

Jirou's mouth gaped. Did he just say what he thought he said?

He went to question it but Ayame continued to speak.

"Now Jirou I have to say it's a pleasure getting to meet you. We're going to be family soon. So, it's best we learn everything about each other. Wouldn't you say?" He asked.

Jirou nodded.

"Great!" Ayame said excitedly before listing a bunch of things about himself. His birthday, favorite color, favorite food. Jirou laughed slightly. He was really something.

"But enough about me. I want to know more about you. You and Erin are close I see?" He asked.

"We are… Now at least. There was a while when we weren't. However, luckily we are now." Jirou said, rubbing the back of his neck.

Ayame surprised him by giving him a look of understanding. "Well better late than never. Now, I'm sure you know this, but I have a younger sibling as well. A brother. He's about Erin's age."

Jirou blinked. "Oh no, I didn't know that. Hatori… Well he hasn't told me anything about his family."

Ayame had a serious expression for a moment. One that surprised Jirou. He seemed to be thinking of something. "Well I guess that makes sense. Tori was never one for talking. Especially after all he's been through and had to do for the family."

Jirou's eyes widened slightly at his words. What did he mean by that? What did Hatori have to do?

He went to ask, but was interrupted by Mine's voice.

"We're coming out!" She exclaimed happily.

Ayame smiled wide, seemingly forgetting about the words. "Oh I can't wait to see." He said getting up.

Jirou inwardly sighed. He was hoping to find out more about his family. Not get more unanswered questions.

However, his concerns completely left his mind when he turned and saw Erin.

He smiled.

She looked beautiful.

The dress was simple yet perfect. The top was lace and it had pearl buttons down the back. The skirt flowed and billowed at the slightest movement.

Erin's face was red, she hated being the center of attention. However Jirou could see how happy she was.

And if she was happy, he was happy.

"Erin, this dress fits you perfectly! It's simple yet elegant." Ayame said happily, examining the dress on her. "The length sleeves are perfect for the spring weather and the tulle skirt is flowey, but not too poofy. It's some of my finest work." Ayame said proudly.

Erin smiled as she looked at her reflection. She loved it. She absolutely loved it. She had never worn something so beautiful. She looked at the laced roses on her sleeve and smiled.

She turned to see Jirou staring at her.

"What do you think?" She asked, her nerves getting the better of her.

He smiled. "I think Hatori is the luckiest man in the world."

Her face lit up. "You like it?"

He laughed. "Like it? Erin I love it. You look beautiful."

A huge smile spread across her face. "You really do?"

"Of course. I mean look at you. You're glowing."

She giggled. "Well thank you. I really like it too.I never… Well I never thought I could look this pretty."

Jirou smiled and rolled his eyes. She would say something like that. "Don't be a dope. You're pretty no matter what you wear."

"No truer words have ever been spoken! Erin, your brother has amazing taste. You should listen to him. This dress was made for you. I mean of course it was made for you. I made it specifically with you in mind." Ayame said, billowing the skirt.

"Ayame, it's absolutely perfect! I love it, I love it!" She said excitedly.

"See boss? I told you she'd love it." Mine said happily, looking over to Erin. "He's been working on this for so long."

"I can tell. The detail is beautiful." Erin said happily.

Ayame smiled. "You two flatter me."

Jirou continued to watch the three of them talk.

He looked at Erin. She looked so happy.

She looked like…

Well she looked like a bride, and she will be one soon.

Soon she'll be married.

Married.

God where had the time gone?

He remembered when Erin was little playing dress up at their Gram's house. She used to love to dress up. Always wearing princess dresses and twirling around.

"Jirou, you have to call me princess Erin." A six year old Erin would say with that pouty face she made.

He would laugh and tease her, but follow along.

Looking at her now, it was hard not to still see a little girl playing dress up.

However, he knew she had changed. Grown up immensely. She'd become stronger, faced things he never thought she ever could.

Tears stung at his eyes as he looked at her. He inwardly laughed at himself. He shouldn't cry. However he couldn't help himself. He was so happy.

After everything she had been through, she was able to stand here and be happy in a wedding dress.

It was a long and difficult road, but she was here.

Here, happy as could be and twirling around in a wedding dress

Sure she still had things to work on. Fears to overcome.

But she made it here.

There was a time when this seemed impossible. A time when she couldn't even smile, let alone laugh and have fun.

He thought of how Erin said he was her best friend. He smiled. Her saying that made him so unbelievably happy.

He once again mentally thanked Suki for dragging him to her graduation two years ago.

She met his gaze and he gave her a thumbs up and smiled.

She returned it easily and looked at herself in the mirror once more.

He let himself relax.

Yes she did it. She'd overcome a numerous amount of obstacles to make it to this very moment.

She did it.

And he was so proud of her.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

"So? Wedding dress shopping was a success?" Kat's voice asked from the other end of the phone.

Jirou smiled as he searched his mom's fridge for snacks. "Of course. Found the perfect one. Ah Kat I wish you could've seen the look on her face. She looked so happy."

"I'm so glad. I bet she is gonna look so beautiful." She said excitedly. "Did you cry?" She laughed.

"No, I didn't cry." He said, shaking his head.

"I don't know. I bet you got a little choked up seeing her in a wedding dress." She teased.

He laughed. "I guess you'll never know"

"Oh I know. My dad's a lawyer. I know when people are hiding something… Oh hey! How was meeting Hatori's cousin? Find out more about his secret mob family?" She asked with a laugh.

Jirou sat at the table and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah. He's nice. However, he's really different from what I thought. He's… Well interesting." He said, having trouble finding words to explain Ayame.

"I see. So not stuck up like you thought?"

"Definitely not."

"Well that's good. See? I told you it would all work out." She said happily.

He sighed slightly. "Yeah, I guess."

"Uh oh, I know that tone. What's wrong?" She asked.

"It's nothing."

"Jirou, tell me."

He mulled over his thoughts before answering. "It's just Hatori's cousin Ayame… He just said some things. Stuff about Hatori having to do things he doesn't like to talk about. It just rubbed me the wrong way. I still know absolutely nothing."

"It's okay. If you're meant to know, you'll find out in time. However Jirou, you do have to remember that it's not really your place to get involved. I know you're looking out for Erin, but she probably already knows." She said, trying to reason with him.

Jirou thought of what Erin said at the shop when he said he wanted to know more about Hatori's family.

"Yeah you and me both."

She mumbled it, but he caught it.

She didn't know.

He took a breath. "You're right. Hey, let me go. I got a few things in the garage I have to do."

"Alright. Don't think too much okay? I know how you get." She said, worry seeping into her voice.

He smiled. "Don't worry me. I'm fine. I promise. I love you."

"I love you too."

He hung up and walked to the garage.

He ran a hand down his face as he turned on his radio.

The music filled the garage as he went to put away the tools he left out.

He stared at a wrench in his hand as he turned it over a few times.

His mind was wandering.

It was a nasty habit he had. One that made him look too deep into things. However, he'd been complacent before. He sure as hell wasn't doing that again.

He trusted Hatori.

He liked Hatori.

But did he think he was hiding something?

Absolutely.

And he was going to find out what.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Happy Saturday!

I hope everyone had a great week!

This chapter took me sooooo long. I blame it on the fact that I had to write Ayame... Writing Ayame is exhausting to write lololol. I feel like I needed to be drunk or something haha.

I can't believe we're already on Chapter 7! Ah it needs to slow down I'm not ready to be completely down with this story yet. I'm gonna be so sad when it's over haha. Oh well all good things must come to an end. We're about to get into the good stuff.

Since we got some more of her in this chapter today's character analysis we have Jirou's girl Katsumi!

-Katsumi is an only child. Her parents are divorced.

-Her father is a Lawyer and owns a very successful law firm

-She doesn't get along with her stepmom at all. She's a lot younger than her dad and Kat is convinced she's only married to him for the money.

-Jirou is the only person who calls her Kat.

-Kat met Suki in college. I imagine Kat was hesitant about going on a blind date with Jirou but I imagine Suki was very persistent. (As she tends to be.)

-Kat is a very calm and level headed person. Which is exactly what Jirou needs.

-She loves music and isn't picky about what she listens to. She loves western music even though she doesn't speak English outside of the few phrase Jirou taught her. She loves listening to Jirou sing, and will actively request songs for him to sing.

-Making Kat was actually funny. She wasn't supposed to be a character. She was only supposed to show up in chapter 12 in My Winter. I actually planned Jirou to go on a date and her to be well kind of a bitch haha. I wanted Erin to call him and him have to leave and Kat to give him a lot of slack. I wanted Jirou to be like no I'm leaving. I needed to make the point that Jirou would drop whatever he was doing for Erin. (Which he does. If anyone has noticed. It doesn't matter who he's talking to or what he's doing, If Erin comes up to him, he gives her his full attention. Never settle for less ladies lololol.) Anyway what happened was I fell in love with Kat's character haha. I started writing their date and it just went so well. I couldn't be mean haha. I mean he still left but it played out much nicer than how I originally planned.

It just goes to show that characters really have a mind of their own haha. This story is so big and has gone so many places I've never thought it would. However I really like that about it. Making all these characters is a lot of fun.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I will see you next week for Chapter 8: Sick

Love you guys!