Disclaimer: Hana Yori Dango belongs to Yoko Kamio.
AN: Wrote this a while back for a spring fic challenge over at dotmoon, but didn't meet the deadline because I wasn't satisfied with it. Dug it out again yesterday and realized it was much better than I'd thought. Oh, well.
The challenge involved writing a fic with good luck charm theme without using any names to identify major characters. For the purpose of this story, Tsukushi never threw the Saturn necklace at an amnesiac Tsukasa before she stormed out of the mansion and Rui never gave his violin away. Also, I had fun playing with present tense. Enjoy!
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."—Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Third Time's the Charm
For her, the Saturn necklace serves as a good luck charm—a reminder that she is loved.
For him, the necklace serves as a constant reminder that he's lost the girl he loves to his best friend.
His best friend, who no longer remembers that he gave this girl a necklace and how much she means to him.
—- —- —- —
He's waiting for her on her way home from law school, and he can't help but love the way her face lights up when she sees him.
She greets him with his name—his full name, as always—and he smiles. Her words reflect the odd way she seems to be caught between formality and the intimacy of friendship. It's as if she can't stand to address him by his family name alone, but can't bring herself to address him so casually either. Though it's endearing, a tiny part of him wishes she'd lean towards the casual side of things.
They exchange a few pleasantries—she's enthusiastic about law school despite the pressure—and then he gets straight to the point.
"He's back in Japan."
For a few seconds, her face freezes. Then she swallows and says lightly, "Oh? I hadn't heard."
"You should go see him."
She bites her lip and then looks over at him, forcing a smile. "I don't see what good it will do." She drops her eyes. "It's been months," she adds quietly.
When she looks up again, he's standing right in front of her, peering down seriously. "What if he remembers today?" It hurts to say the words, but he knows he must.
She shakes her head, her dark hair swishing with the motion. "It's—it's not that easy."
He says her name again, insistently, and when she finally looks back at him, says gently, "Go see him."
They stare at each other for a moment before she nods and picks up her books. As she walks away, he sees her hand slip up to grip the necklace he knows she's still wearing.
—- —- —- —
He doesn't follow her, doesn't join her at his friend's house to watch events unfold. If it works, he'll be happy for her. If it doesn't, he'll be there to pick up the pieces.
He's waiting for her when she gets home, however, and he can tell by the slump in her shoulders that the meeting did not go well. She's not surprised to find him there, but she pretends she is.
"What brings you here?"
He merely lifts his eyebrows, stifling a yawn.
She knows he sees right through her and lets out a sigh. "Am I that obvious?"
A hint of a smile crosses his face. She has no idea. It's one of the things he loves about her.
"Tama was happy to see me," she says, striving to keep her voice cheerful. "But—" she swallows and he watches her face tighten. "He still doesn't remember."
"I see." He sits down beside her on the curb and stares up at the rapidly darkening sky.
"He recognized me from the hospital," she continues, trying to smile at the memory and failing miserably, "and then just went off on this long rant. I didn't even understand half of it—I swear his Japanese is getting worse. Stupid idiot."
He hears both the affection and the pain lacing her words and looks over at her. She's staring down at her hands as if not quite sure what to make of them.
"I'm hungry," he says, getting to his feet and jamming his hands into his pockets. "Want to get some dinner?"
Their eyes meet and he sees a bit of hesitation in her face before she smiles. "Sure."
He extends his hand and she allows him to pull her to her feet.
"Just let me drop these off." She motions to her books. A moment later, they're in his car.
—- —- —- —
He doesn't see her for a few weeks after that, though he finds his thoughts drifting to her often. Even though the man she loves has forgotten her, she's still clinging to a fragile thread of hope. He knows she is and he can't bring himself to cut it. He won't. The choice has always been hers—all he can do is wait. He's good at waiting.
Fall gives way to winter and the weather grows steadily colder. He sees her a few more times, and once he almost says something. But then he catches sight of gold glittering at her throat and the words die before he can get them out.
Whatever she says, whatever she thinks, he knows she still cares. She's like that, and it's another of the reasons he loves her. Even so, he can see she's faltering. His best friend was the never-yielding force in their relationship—without him, she's slowly giving up.
He still thinks he's the man who could make her happy, but he wants her to have no regrets. And deep down, he wonders if it's selfish to want all of her heart.
Christmas comes and goes. Their friends do the best they can to include her, but it's awkward. The urge to punch his best friend's lights out is almost overwhelming, but he shoves it down. Instead, he spends Christmas with her family. They don't exchange gifts and he doesn't mention it. He's not sure what to get her either and he knows her finances are still tight.
Just when he starts to think that perhaps he's not destined for failure in love, everything collapses. His best friend announces he's engaged, and this time the engagement isn't one of his mother's manipulations.
He calls her as soon as he hears the news. Anger wars with concern inside him. She's going to be hurt yet again.
He's not surprised that she answers him cheerfully, but he is surprised her good humor is genuine. For a few seconds, he's almost afraid to ask if she's heard.
"I know why you're calling," she says lightly.
"Eh?" Does she really know? he wonders.
"I've heard about the engagement," she continues, "and I'm happy for them. She really loves him."
She rambles on and he has to say her name twice to get her attention.
"You're not upset." It isn't a question. He's come to know her voice quite well by now and he's amazed by the lack of strain in the dulcet tones. He senses her quiet smile.
"I'm happy for them," she repeats. "Maybe—maybe it's destiny."
"Destiny?" he echoes, flabbergasted.
He's about to ask what she means when she suddenly bursts out, "Oh! Mama wanted me to ask you if you want to join us tonight for a little New Year's Eve party." She laughs.
He agrees and she hangs up before he can think to press her further. Feeling rather bemused, he reaches for his violin.
The evening goes well, though he notices she doesn't linger around him. He contemplates calling her, but decides he might as well leave her be, considering the circumstances.
—- —- —- —
Valentine's Day comes and goes; the only recognition she gives it is a bemused shake of the head. Part of him wishes that wasn't the case, but he knows she has to make this decision—she has to move on with her life by herself. He doesn't want to be a regret.
Not if she's not happy.
She's always happy to see him when he drops by, or talk to him when he calls, and it gives him hope. At the very least, he'll always be considered her friend, even if what he wants is so much more.
Winter slowly gives way to spring. It makes him happy, because his favorite places to sleep are outside. It's still too early to be really warm, but change is in the air.
It's his birthday, though he steadfastly refuses to make a big deal out of it. His friends drag him out for dinner, insisting he has to have a party, but it isn't his style.
Which is why he has no trouble ditching them when she calls. After all, she was making absolutely no sense—babbling on about nothing, seemingly unable to get to the point. She finally stammers out, "Happy birthday," and he smiles. It's a smile full of joy that she called and amazement she knew to call. He doesn't doubt why she called him—she was like that. She'd have done the same for any of their friends.
His smile slips a bit, fading away. He takes a breath and with it comes fresh resolve. Obviously, there's something on her mind. She doesn't get flustered like that unless she's trying to say something important or lying about how she's really feeling.
Which is why he's soon in his car, speeding towards her apartment. The city flashes by, but he pays no mind. Something is bothering her and it's his job to find out what it is. She's far too stubborn for her own good.
He doesn't go up to her door, not wishing to disturb her family. Instead, he flips open his cell and calls her.
She sounds slightly nervous when she answers, which prompts him to smile. She knows he can see right through all the little masks she tries to put up.
"I'm outside." He doesn't waste words, just tells her the truth in his usual fashion.
"I'll be waiting for you." He hangs up before she can answer. He's fairly certain she'll come, but… He squashes the doubt and locks it in the far corner of his mind. She'll come. She always comes to him.
Sure enough, a few minutes later he hears a door open and then footsteps. She stops a few feet from him, her dark eyes full of questions.
"What are you doing here?"
He shrugs. "You sounded weird.
She looks taken aback. "Eh? Oh. It's nothing really."
He cocks an eyebrow at her. "You don't have company, do you? Am I interrupting?"
"No! No, it's not like that." She takes a step forward, her hands fluttering in a gesture of denial.
It's then that he sees the bag she's carrying and his heart beats a little faster. It looks small enough to be, well, a…birthday present.
She seems to pick up on his line of thought and takes yet another step closer. He knows her well enough to see she's nervous. And somehow, he knows they're at a crossroads. He looks down at the street. Her best male friend he may be, and a comforting shoulder to lean on whenever her life gets dashed to pieces, but she's never going to see him as anything else. Not when her heart still belongs to a man who can't even remember who she is.
He shoves his hands into his pockets, shaking his head once. He'll spare her the hassle of trying to put it into words. He doesn't want to hear them anyway. Not today.
"I just remembered there's something I have to do," he says airily. "Sorry for dragging you out here."
"Wait" She catches his sleeve, before latching firmly onto his arm. "I want to give you this first." She holds out the bag and flashes him a smile as his fingers automatically curl around the handles. "Happy birthday."
He's looking into her eyes and he finds he can't move. He can't leave. Not when she's smiling like that. "You didn't have—"
"Yes, I did."
He gives her a look at the sudden forcefulness in her tone, and she blushes, releasing his arm.
"Sorry," she mumbles.
He chuckles. "It's okay." Then he opens the bag and pulls out a box, nicely decorated. A sudden thought occurs to him and he almost forgets to breathe. Very carefully, so as not to harm the contents of the box, he lifts the lid.
There, nestled on a sea of colorful shredded paper, are a number of little cookies. Cookies in the shape of little violins, books…and his face—both awake and asleep. For a long moment, he stares at them in silence. His mind is strangely blank, refusing to process what this gift means.
Her voice, soft and tentative, breaks the trance that has come over him. "I know you don't eat a lot of sweets, so I found a recipe that didn't need much sugar."
He raises his eyes to look at her, but his attention falls on her neck. "You're not wearing it." He's surprised by how calm he sounds.
She looks down. "What?" Then realization strikes and she shakes her head. "Oh, that. No, I stopped wearing it a few weeks ago. Valentine's Day, actually." She shrugs and laughs. "I put it away. That part of my life is over."
"Really?" There's quiet hope in his voice as he looks at her.
She smiles and glances away. "You've always been there for me. Through everything."
He says her name and she smiles again.
"I must have sounded like an idiot on the phone." She shakes her head. "I just don't know how to say it."
He's silent; he can't make himself ask the question. Besides, he's sure she'll tell him if it's important.
She twists her hands together. "A part of me will always love him. I've realized that. But—but—" She swallows and he braces himself for the worst.
"You were my first love. And over the past few months I've realized that those feelings never went away. You're my lifesaver. But—" she rushes on, "I didn't say anything before because I didn't want you to think I was only choosing you because he forgot—ooph!" She lets out a little gasp as his arms suddenly come around her.
He closes his eyes, holding her tightly. "I must be dreaming," he murmurs into her hair. Surely he hasn't just heard what he thinks he heard.
She says his name—his given name—once and then again when he doesn't reply.
He releases her just enough so she can turn around in his arms. He leans toward her so his forehead is nearly touching hers. "Do you love me?"
She nods. "I do."
He smiles, before closing the gap between them and kissing her. The last time he tried, she shrank away. This time, she meets him halfway.
It's the best birthday present he could have ever received.
"You don't know how long I've been waiting for this," he murmurs against her lips.
"I think it might be love," she murmurs back, a smile curving her lips.
He pulls her close, burying his face in her neck. "It must be."
She loops her arms around his neck. "I love you."
—- —- —- —
Upstairs in her room, tucked away in a box buried in the back of her dresser, is a little velvet box containing a Saturn pendant necklace. Once, it served as a reminder that he had lost and his hopes and dreams would never be.
Now it is a silent reminder that his luck has changed.
As much as I think Tsukasa and Tsukushi are well-suited, I've always had a soft spot for Rui. He might not have needed her as desperately as Tsukasa, but he loved her enough to let her go and managed to live without her.
Hope you enjoyed. Let me know what you thought!