A/N: I rearranged bits and pieces of the manga and anime for this fanfic. This is their third and last year of high school now. They are 18 years old. This chapter sets the tone for their usual days together and how serious their relationship is becoming. Rei's little brother is based after his cousin in the manga, except I made him shy and a tad bit nicer ( I don't like obnoxious kids). Haha. Enjoy!
Sorry for the superrrr long update… I was so busy with school, then I recently graduated and had to adjust to real life with working and all that jazz. I'm excited to be able to continue this though now that my creative writing juices started to flow again.
Thanks for everyone who left a review! I love you guys!
Alice Jane- Thank you so much! So glad you loved it! I agree Rei did have a lot of small smiles in the manga that show his amusement. I was glad to make him open up more with this fic. I'm glad you like the Rei POV! I'll make sure to keep writing that way.
Fayeuchiharuno- They say, THANKS! Hehehe. Awwww I could feel how much you loved it just by your words in the comment. And it might take me a while, but I have the whole plot and chapters planned out for this story. I plan on making it a long one don't you worry! Make sure you sign up to be updated for new chapters if you haven't done so already! Sending you hugs and kisses! XOXO
Screaming Siopao: Awwww that is so sweet! What an awesome coincidence! Thanks so much for always encouraging me with this fic!
Cloundshadow- Thanks a bunch! I'm so glad you liked my chapter and thought it was sweet! Your review brought a smile to my face.
CHAPTER 5: MELTING ICE
Drowning. I feel like I'm drowning deeper the more that I'm with Aya. It scares me sometimes still. To think that I've opened up and told her so much about myself makes me so vulnerable… I question if I took the right path. I look at her beaming as she hands out flyers. Her midnight blue hair is shining as radiantly as her eyes. But I feel like I can trust her… I can't help but show her more of myself. I have confidence she'll still love me despite seeing how despicable and scarred I am.
My icy barriers melt with a single smile of hers. Geez… I sound like one of those people in the romantic movies that Aya loves to watch. How have I come to this?!
"Aya. You don't have to do this you know," I mutter while I shield my eyes from the glare of the sun.
"I know… but I want to! I want to help Rei-kun as much as I can," she said with a sweet and determined tone. With renewed vigor, she kept passing out flyers to the passersby.
I quietly chuckle to myself. God is so good to give me someone like Aya- a girl who'd be willing to give up her Saturday afternoon to pick up a temp job passing out flyers to standoffish tourists for my sake. How can you resist falling in love with someone as kind-hearted as that?
You see, I told her about my recent predicament. Paying our rent has been a struggle this past month because my little brother, Ryou, had to be taken to the ER for a bad case of dehydration and diarrhea. I told him not to eat the porridge that we accidentally left out for two days but noooo he just didn't listen. Mom and I have just been so busy working that we forgot to make food for him that day. And Ryou has always had a sensitive stomach anyway. SIgh. So I picked up extra hours at work, started acting like a zombie from exhaustion, and Aya wants to come to my rescue.
Well, I can't let her do this all on her own.
"Give me some." I bluntly said while taking the spot next to her on the street.
Her eyes go big in astonishment. "N-n-no! Rei! The whole point of me doing this is to give you rest. How can you rest when you're doing it with me?"
I smirked. I knew she'd say that, but I have a brilliant counter. "But if I pass this out with you, won't it go faster? You can go home when you've passed all the flyers out right? So if you let me, we can BOTH go home sooner."
Aya pouted cutely- a symbol of resignation. Hehe… I won.
"Ok fine…" Looking at each other's eyes, we couldn't help but let out a laugh. More like a chuckle for me, but a full-blown laugh for Aya. If I get to be with her, heck time should pass by like a breeze!
"Still, Rei, I do this all the time with Ran and Miyu, so it's no big deal. But to be honest, being next to you this whole afternoon makes me so happy." The familiar blush swept over Aya's cheeks. So typical. But if Aya doesn't say sweet, romantic things like that… well, then it's not Aya. And to be honest, I feel a warm tug on my heart everytime she says her one-liners.
"Silly," I playfully say to her while turning my head to hide my smile. Besides, I couldn't leave her alone seeing how so many men swoon at her.
Yiiiiiiii! I am so happy! I must be the luckiest girl alive to have the man of my dreams with me the whole day, helping me lighten my load. Rei is such a sweet guy, he just has a funny way of showing it. Haha.
Well, we had a very productive day passing out the flyers. As usual, Rei was right and we ended up shortening my shift by half because we did the job in no time. The girls flocked to him while boys gravitated to me. It was weird but I guess understandable. I tried my best not to get jealous. I am so tired and my voice is kind of hoarse, but I get to help out Rei, which is the most important thing.
"Aya?" Rei suddenly calls to me while we were packing up, interrupting my reverie.
"H-hai? What is it?" I blink out of surprise for his determined tone.
"Since we halved your shift, we have a lot of time left. Want to come over to my house for dinner and then I'll take you home? I know you don't have any exams coming up."
Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh! Ohmygosh!
"Yes! That sounds wonderful!" Best. Day. Ever!
"I'm sure Mom and Ryou would love to meet you," he said with a grin.
Mom… Ryou… Oh goodness. I'm going to meet his family. His MOM of all people. But… but… is now the right time? Do I look okay? Is my hair messy? Do I smell bad? I don't want them to have a bad impression of me…
"Relax. They'll love you. All right, we've finished packing up and signing out. Let's go." He swiftly takes my hand.
I'm getting more used to Rei's sudden acts of sweetness, but I still can't help but blush every time. Oh but wait… I'm meeting his family! Oh my gosh! And how did he know I was thinking that?
"Rei… wait. Stop. Is my hair okay? Is my dress appropriate? Do I have something in my teeth?"
He looks at my white summer dress dotted with pink circles and upward to my hair swept in an up-do. I wore pink crocheted circle earrings to top off the outfit.
There it is… his familiar twinkling eyes that give away what he's thinking. He chuckles.
"I think you know my answer to that. You look fantastic," he says reassuringly as he draws me into a hug.
"Now quit being a worry-wart or we'll be late." I receive a playful tug with a boyish smile as we walk briskly to the train station. Agh why does he always have to make me swoon? Haha.
The familiar hustle and bustle of Shibuya Train Station meets us as we walk in. Rei, as always in crowded places, grabs my hand and takes charge to lead me through.
Once inside, I can't help but fidget with my fingers. I mean, this is a big deal right? Meeting his family?! And I didn't have time to prepare at all.
Easily caught up in my thoughts, I was surprised how fast the train ride took. We are in front of his doorstep already!
It was a humble abode, a small two-story house with a brick exterior, 2 bedrooms and one bathroom. Rei has told me that they used to live in a wealthy house, until his dad angered debt collectors thanks to his alcohol addiction. I can still remember the sad smile he gave me when he said, "Not like a big house matters anyway. A house filled with love can never be bought."
As I walk into the front door, the scent of eucalyptus and pine fills my nose. Their house was beautiful and quaint. Very cozy.
I kind of wish mine was like this. Rei's right. My house is full of large rooms that are never really used. My parents are always working in their "boring corporate job" as they always say. In fact, I don't have any siblings because my parents were so wrapped up in their work that my mom didn't want to take maternity leave. She thought she'd always have more time… that is, until time ran out. I don't resent my parents for their decision, but still, I was lonely so much while growing up. I always had to fight for their love and attention. I guess that's why I could withstand the cold treatment Rei gave me. I'm used to it with my family.
"Oh my! Rei! You're home so early! Good thing I finished dinner already! Well, well… you must be Aya. I've heard so much of you, and you're exactly as I pictured. My Rei sure does know how to pick them. Such a pretty lady!" I smile warmly and blush as she touches my heart with her compliments. She cups my hands before embracing me. Mmm she smells like apple cinnamon.
Now that I have a good look at her, Rei's mom is beautiful. She must be in her forties, but she looks like she could be in her thirties. Her hair is tied in a bun and she is wearing very simple clothes, but her face is radiant and she holds herself in such an elegant demeanor. She has the same hair and smile as Rei.
A small voice calls out from the staircase. "R-rei?"
"Hey Ryou, come out. Aya's here."
A sullen and shy boy comes out to meet me. His hair is disheveled, along with his clothes. He might have just woken from a nap today. Aww… he looks so much like Rei, but with a lighter shade of brown. And his eyes, so piercing like Rei's too. He obviously does not trust me and may even see me as an intruder, but it's okay. His brother was like that too haha.
He looks at me grudgingly and quickly says "hi" while looking away. Just like Rei when he gets annoyed or embarrassed by me. Oh the similarities…
"Well, let's get to dinner shall we?" Mrs. Otohata says as she leads us to the kitchen.
As we talk during this dinner, I feel aglow with happiness that I could cry. This is such a special moment for me. To think that Rei would introduce me to the people that he cares most about… This is the stuff I dream about! Thank you, Rei.
I steal a glance at him and he smiles gently at me. I know that he knows what I'm thinking. Good. Because I really am so thankful to him.
Mrs. Otohata's voice brings back my attention. "And could you believe that, Aya? Even at such a young age, Rei was so stubborn. He was the only one in his class who refused to play with the other kids during recess because he would rather read a book under a tree. My Rei was always such a strange kid!"
I laugh, thinking that I did the very same exact thing before!
"Mom…." Rei is clearly uncomfortable and annoyed. His mom and I shared peals of laughter.
"Um… Rei... " Ryou starts off hesitatingly.
"What is it, Ryou? Remember I told you that you have to be more assertive and confident in yourself when you speak," Rei chastises. Ha! Isn't that familiar? He used to tell me that all the time!
"Well, Rei, I got my report card today and I wanted to show it to you." He slowly shoves the card towards Rei in the table.
Ryou's gaze is intense as he anxiously waits for what his big brother says.
"Good job, Ryou! All As! Keep it up!" Rei states affectionately as he pats his little brother's head.
Wow… Rei really does act like the head of the family, doesn't he? His approval means so much to Ryou. I know Rei works so many part-time jobs to help his family and still he does so well at school. Poor Rei… I know he must be under so much pressure.
"Well, I believe it's time for you to take Aya home, Rei. Don't want you kids to be out there too late." We head for the door.
I stoop down to shake Ryou's hand. "Goodbye, Ryou. It was so nice meeting you and keep being a superstar at school. I know you can do it!" Surprised, he blinks twice and nods before looking away again.
Next, Mrs. Otohata envelops me in a tight hug. "Oh you are such a wonderful and sweet girl, dear! Rei is so lucky to have you! I can't wait to see my grandchildren!"
Eeep! My face flushes beet red in an instant. G-g-g-grandchildren?! We're just 18!
"MOM! Argh." Rei quickly breaks apart our hug and drags me out of the door. "Night! Be back soon!"
And here I am, walking beet-red-faced Aya home. Ugh... I can't believe Mom said that! It was so awkward and embarrassing. We're wayyyy too young to think about that. But someday… I could see us having a family. It's not THAT embarrassing to think about that, right? I mean, hasn't she had a passing thought about getting married? She must have. This is Aya we're talking about- Ms. Hopeless Romantic.
"You can stop blushing now Aya."
"A-ah? What? N-no I'm not blushing. It's just the light," she cutely replies while turning away her face.
"Have you thought about it?" I bluntly ask her. I really am curious to know.
"Wh-wh-what?!" Oh great, her face is now red times 10.
"You know… what our children, if we actually did get married and have them, would be like?"
"W-well… to be perfectly honest, I have." Knew it. Hahaha.
A change comes Aya's face as she decides to let me in on her secret thoughts, no matter how embarrassing they might be. Her eyes are glistening while she talks animatedly and her walk increases its bounce. It's so fun to watch her quietly, especially since she's always oblivious to it.
"Well, they'd of course be smart. If it was a girl, I imagine she'd have dark hair like me but chestnut brown eyes like yours. And she'd love bows and frilly things. She'd be sweet, introverted but stubborn. She would stand up for what she believes in. I think the same would go for a boy. But he'd have a grouchy side, especially in the morning, with a mischievous glint in his eye like you sometimes do," she concludes with her right index finger resting on her chin. She's so cute.
I furrow my brow in surprise. "What? Mischievous look? I do?"
She lets out a giggle. "Yes, Rei. You're always thinking something and I can always see it in those eyes of yours."
I stop in my tracks. "Really now? You think you can read my mind, hm? Then tell me… what am I thinking now?"
I stare intensely at her wide eyes that glistened under the moonlight. I take a step towards her and her cherry-blossom scent fills my senses. Her face must be red times 100. I look at her long lashes, the stray hairs that caressed her cheek, and finally her full lips. My heart is beating so fast that I'm almost afraid she can hear it. I meant to do this as a way of teasing her, but I guess it backfired on me…
I pick up my hand to brush away the stray hairs when suddenly,
"Out of the way Mister! Detective investigation under way!"
I could barely take a step when I see two kids running and rolling like a whirlwind. They go right between me and Aya.
"Aya-ppe! And Otochi-kun! Good we ran into you civilians! We are after a criminal on the loose! Quick! Did you see any mysterious figures pass by?"
It is Ran's energetic little sister, along with her just-as-energetic boyfriend. They are now hanging on the lamp post, peering into the surrounding area with hands in salute position.
Aya is first to speak. "Uh… sorry you guys, but we didn't see anyone suspicious."
They give pouting faces. "Oh well! Off we go! Let us continue our search!" And just like that, they are gone.
We both let out a laugh. Those two are a crazy handful. Just like the rest of the gang.
"I'm going to miss them so much, Rei… I love everyone here. I can't believe that time is running out. We BOTH got in to Tokyo University and we'll be spending another four years together, along with Yuuya, but everyone else will go in their own separate directions." Her face looks so sullen and worried.
I cup her face with my hands. This time, I only get a slight blush. "Hey, are you worried? Don't you have confidence in the strength of our friendships?"
Worry still laces her face and tears are forming in her eyes. "I do… but I still can't help worry that we'll all be pulled apart. I've thought about it, and I just can't imagine how painful that would be."
"So don't think about it. And hey, you'll have me. Right?"
She meets my gaze with a grateful look and a gentle smile. "Right. As long as I have you, Rei-kun, I'll be alright no matter what happens." She gives me a tight embrace.
There she goes again. Saying sweet, innocent things which penetrate my heart like an arrow.
I don't know what the future holds, and I don't know if I'll just end up hurting her in the end by letting Aya get close to me… But it's too late.
I've let her in. I've told her my secrets, fears and struggles. I've shown her the real me. I've even introduced her to my family now. And for the first time, I've met a girl who actually loves me for who I really am, and not just what I look like.
I still remember how hard I fought to keep her away, because I knew she had the potential of breaking the walls that I've worked so hard to put up over the years.
Aya: Then… then what can I do to be close to you?
Rei: I might hurt you without even realizing it. But, even so, you still want to…?
Aya: Yes… even if you hurt me… I'll love you…
Rei: "Huh. She's got a new boyfriend? Well, if that's what she wants, that's cool with me. This way, I don't have to be tied down."
Ran: What?! Has Aya ever made you feel tied down? As far as I know, she's always tried not to be a burden to you even at the expense of holding back what she really wanted to say!
Rei: I know all too well. And that's what weighs me down.
Back then, Aya was so fragile, like a beautiful porcelain doll that I could easily break with a touch. At least, that's how it seemed to me. It took a while for me to see the quiet strength that she possessed and her strong conviction to stand up for what she believed in. The more time I spent with her, uncovering additional facets of her inner beauty, the more I fell. It was like watching a rose in bloom and I just couldn't help but pick it up, even if I end up with a dead rose and a bloody hand filled with thorns.
I'm scared. You're getting so reckless, Rei. But as I'm holding Aya tightly in my arms right now, I never want to let go. Is it foolish for me to hope? Will I just end up hurting her the way my dad did to my mom even if I don't want to? Will we end up hating each other? I tighten my hold around her. For now, I don't care. None of that matters. All I care about is what's in front of me and the fact that I now realize how deeply and madly in love I am with Aya. Like I told her, I really am such a selfish guy. But it's also her fault. She reduced my icy walls to a mere puddle on the sidewalk.