ii.

After the seemingly joyful family was reunited because of a certain unlucky lawyer, thick, heavy silence was birthed. They all just stood there awkwardly, looking at one another and hoping that everyone else would resume what they were doing previously. Eyes gazed, minds both wondered and wandered, lips were sealed. Everyone's feet were rooted to the cement, far too cautious to say or do anything out of line. They weren't friends, of course, just businessmen. And if they learned anything about business, it was to be civil and polite, no more and no less.

"I was beginning to think you bailed on your work, Nakamura," It was her boss—the quote-and-quote 'legendary' Shiraga Aku—who shattered the oozing silence, and returned whatever normalcy the Ootoris and Kaiya had back. Aku just smirked, and a burst of cold nostalgia erupted somewhere inside Kaiya.

"Of course not, sir," Kaiya replied monotonously, carefully. 'I'd be an idiot if I left work even for five minutes!' "The file-delivering just got delayed."

"Hm. Alright. Thank you, Nakamura." Aku's nebulous reddish brown eyes then bore into her absent-of-color ones as he grabbed his files. He glanced briefly as the bespectacled male, "Thank you, too, Kyouya-san for your time."

Kyouya nodded coldly and curtly, "Again, it is a pleasure." He then led his…spawn towards the main gates, using that 'Shadow King' look to usher his wife as well. He obviously did not (want to) notice Kaiya, who was trying her best to ignore him as well. But their futile attempts were crushed into dust when Haruhi, for the first time that afternoon, spoke.

"Wait, Kyouya," Just those two words made him stop, 'How much power does she actually have over me? Haruhi is both my wings and the chains that bind me.'

"Kyouya," She repeated his name, and he—along with his daughter—turned around to face Haruhi, "Maybe we should invite Nakamura-san for lunch…She did, after all, return Kira to us."

"I suppose," He muttered, unsure of where this was going. Ootori Kyouya was a man who saw the big picture, but this time…the big picture was blurry and far too unclear for him to understand. The last thing he wanted to do was sit in some five-star restaurant in front of the person he was infatuated (was, he assured himself) with together with his wife and child. It just didn't seem…right.

"That's great!" Haruhi replied cheerily. 'Marriage had done her some good,' Kaiya reasoned, 'with her skills in cooking and cleaning, she would be the perfect housewife. And of course, she's a damn good lawyer, too.'

"Oh, and Shiraga-san," The (far better) lawyer turned to face the blue-black-haired man, "Maybe you'd like to join as well. You and Kyouya-koi could discuss more on business."

'Marriage…has changed her,' Nakamura Kaiya then concluded, but she could not decide whether that change was good or bad. Now, Haruhi could see people's emotions less vaguely and she could sympathize with them a bit more. Also, it did help that she wasn't so blunt and tactless anymore…

"You're right, Ootori-chan. And besides, I can't quite stand the vegetarian junk Aiko feeds me everyday." Kaiya didn't know her boss that well, but she knew enough that he was a more-or-less nice man, though snappy and rude. But Kaiya no longer trusted her perception of people around her; perhaps she trusted others too quickly….Perhaps she trusted others too slowly…

"Okay! We'll just see each other in Fleur de L'âme, alright?" It was Haruhi who had changed too much over the last five years, and Kaiya knew she couldn't adapt to her new 'happy, yay, hurrah' personality. But if she had tolerated that Shiraga Aiko-hime for the past six months…Surely, she could tolerate this new Haruhi as well.

. . .

Fleur de L'âme was a high-end restaurant in the heart of Tokyo that served French-Japanese fusion food. The main dishes though, were more Japanese than French. Only the desserts and pastries were quasi-French. Nevertheless, it was expensive and the price of their signature 'French Onion With Miso' soup was already half her rent. Kaiya just hoped that there was something…a little bit cheaper on the menu.

Unsurprisingly, there weren't any food items quite in her range. And even if there were, it would probably have killed Kaiya inside if she purchased said food items. Sighing inaudibly, she decided to order 'Salted Cod on Chilled Soba.' It was the only thing in the menu close to what she usually ate, fish and soba. And, it was one of the cheaper items in the restaurant.

Kyouya had ordered a similar soba dish, but with Filet Mignon; Haruhi had opted for a French-inspired chicken bento and Aku had decided on the classic French Croque Monsieur. The waiter also came back for their drink orders, in which they replied some sort of imported wine. Kaiya asked for a bottle of water, and was bombarded with questions if she wanted sparkling, ionized or even with a lemon. In the end, she settled on the sparkling kind, because it was the only one she was familiar with.

"Nakamura-san, how long have you been working for Shiraga?" It was the first time Kyouya had spoken to her directly, and things were more than awkward. It was harder to look at him now especially since he was married and with a child.

"About six months…I just graduated, and Ieda-sensei recommended Shiraga And Co." She wanted just to pick at her noodles, but they were not the most inexpensive of dishes and it would have been rude not to eat them, "How's the law firm, Ootori-senpai?"

"Business has been booming lately," He shot an almost-loving glance at Haruhi, "And things have been going better than we had expected them to be."

"Daddy, can Aunty-chan come with us to Tokyo Disneyland later?" Before Kaiya to mutter a half-hearted reply, Kira had already but in. Her grey eyes were twinkling, as if thousands of tiny stars swam in them.

"Kira, dear, Nakamura-san has still has work," Kyouya and Haruhi told their daughter in perfect synchronicity.

"Awww…But can I see Aunty-chan again sometime?" With her lips covered in chocolate pudding and her hands lathered in chocolate, how could the nervous parents resist? Haruhi then quickly cleaned the two-year-old up and chided her not to be messy when eating.

"Sure, dear…Sometime." It was obviously a lie, but the awkwardness was simply a little too much. Kyouya then gestured to get the bill, and the five of them waited for the waiter in odd, disturbing silence.

. . .

Dear Tsubasa-senpai,

I know sending snail mail is much more personal, but I'm saving up my money to buy a car. In the long run, it would be much cheaper to use a car than a train. At least, that's how I see it. But never mind my excuses and ramblings about automobiles I want to own, for I have a tale to tell you.

I bumped into a young child today. That child turned out to be Ootori-senpai's daughter. She completed the ecstatic Ootori family. And said happy family's father is now business partners with my boss. Honestly, being this unlucky should be considered illegal in Japan.

Also, I should tell you that Fujio—Ootori-san is now this happy-go-lucky, sweet, not-Haruhi-ish housewife. She then asked me to eat lunch with her, her husband, their daughter and my boss. It wasn't fun, to say the least.

You're probably tired to hearing me angst like there's no tomorrow, so I shall end my email here. I hope to see you soon.

Your friend,

Kaiya.