Chapter 1: Prologue
"One more day," he said to himself as he lend back on his bed, he tilted his slim face upward as the squeaky sound of the upper bunk shifted from one side to the other. After two minutes, it was silence again; he glanced at the dimly lighted area where large, heavy steel bars separated him from the outside world. "Ten years...it will be all over soon," he whispered; he gently slid his right hand under his pillow. "No, who stole it?" His anger roared quietly, he stretched further..., "Thank God, it's here!" It was a rather small, black and white photo of him and a young woman; they happily smiled back at the camera, hand in hand. His face formed a peaceful grin as his thin fingers softly felt the edges of the woman.
She was his one and only love; he could still feel her tenderness, her gentleness, and her softness. The curve of her lips, the smile that she had formed would melt his heart. "I promise that we will be together forever...after
tomorrow," he only wished that tomorrow would come a bit faster; why could not the world just skip a day?
He quickly slid down into the cover and slowly closed his tired eyes, "One more day...," he whispered again, "we'll be together again...."
"Shin, I've in the bathroom for the last half an hour and you still have not been up," a beautiful young woman spoke as she gently curve her long black hair behind her right ear. She began to fit the small gold dangling earring into her ear before raising her voice one again, "Shinichi!"
The man on mumbled a few words as he rubbed his eyes, he glanced at the green digits on the radio clock, "Honey, it's only 9:25, let me sleep for an hour more!"
She poked her head out from the doorway again, "Absolutely not, we have to pick up Jun, get up now!" She was dressed in a purple silk blouse and a pair of black stacks, a single strand of pearls decorated her neck.
"Jun! Oh no, I'm almost forgot it was today! Give me ten minutes, I'll be ready!" Shinichi quickly rose from the bed and rushed into the bathroom, his head poked back out again and give a kiss to the woman. "I'm so sorry, sweetie! Misaki-chan, can you pick out a shirt and a pair of pants for me!"
Misaki shook her head as the man smiled thankfully and running water began to be heard, "I never knew why I married you, you're never prepared, you're never on time, you're never...anything." She quickly strolled over to the oak five-drawer dresser and pulled out the second drawer. "This should do...." It was a pair of blue stacks and a white polo shirt.
"3412745, you're free to go; here are your belongings," the blue uniformed officer instructed the calm man as he placed a large plastic bag onto the table.
"Thank you, sir!" He raised his left hand to his forehead, to any normal person, he seemed to be a businessman. He wore a gray suit with a black shirt and a matching silk, gray tie; he reached for the bag and examine the items.
"Everything is there," the officer questioned him.
The man nodded, he re-zipped the plastic bag and clamped it near his left arm, "Yes, sir!"
"3412745, you have good potential, do well in the outside world and I don't want to see you here again!" The officer rose from the chair and extended his hand.
"I will, sir!" He return the hand shake before dismissing from the office. He smiled blissfully, he was freed at last; it has been ten long and hard years, but it had been while it. He quickly marched down the hallway and made a sharp turn at the first intersection.
"Sweetie, what time is Jun going to be released?" Shinichi glanced at his Timex, the hour hand was on the navy blue, 10 and the second, half way between 5 and 6.
She made a face, "Have patience, I wonder how is he now; it has been ten years since I have seen him," she softly leaned against the silver-colored vehicle, she recalled the time that he was arrested.
"Misaki, don't worry; Jun is a strong man, he will be fine. I wonder where the rest of them are...." He looked around the the rest of the gang.
A worried look came over her face as her husband glanced at his watch again, "I know, Jun will be devastated to see that Kazunari-kun, Yukie-san, and...."
"...Yuko-san; maybe they are late." He assured his wife, "I'm sure they are."
Her lips formed a light smile, "I hope so, Jun will be released any minute now...," the huge iron black doors began to open, making a "nails-scratching a chalkboard sound." Misaki quickly straighten out in nervousness and happiness as a man stepped onto the another side of the black doors. He took one more glanced back him and a huge grin was seem on his face.
Misaki ran toward him in lighting speed, giving him a warm and friendly hug, "Jun!" Shinichi followed her and watched in happiness.
"Nee-chan!" The man shouted as he happily embraced her.
She released him, she quickly wiped the tears from her eyes, "Jun, I thought I would never see you!"
"Nonsense, Nee-chan! No stop that mushy stuff, I am standing right here...." He turned slightly and noticed that blissfully man standing adjacent to them. "You," he gave Shinichi a light hug, "Shin-kun! No, I mean Ni-san!"
Shinichi glanced at his wife while chuckling and then back at Jun, "I sounds so funny after hearing you address me like that...."
Jun only smiled back on how they looked so picture perfect together. "Ni-san, you're one luck guy, my sister is the best wife any man would died for," he placed his right arm on top of his sister's shoulder.
Shinichi nodded in agreement, "I totally agree, best thing that happened to me." He noticed that Misaki blushed a bit as she gracefully spoke again.
"Sweet talks...now Jun, we're going to take you for a celebrate, let's get into the car and catch up on things." Misaki quickly opened the passenger side of the car and signal him in.
Jun nodded and glanced into the street, looking for someone.
"Looking for someone?" Shinichi asked cheerfully. Jun hesitated, "No, I cannot believe how much Tokyo has changed during the last ten years."
Her sister nodded, "I know, we didn't even recognize it either when we stepped off of the plane."
His brother-in-law placed his right arm over Jun's shoulder, "Yep, don't worry; I'm sure Yuko-san and the rest of them just are caught up with something. We'll go back to the old house, I'm sure you'll give her a huge surprise...."
Misaki reassured her brother in a calm matter, "I'm sure of that, now stop worrying!"
Jun smiled in agreement, "Okay, can we make a stop at the cemetery?"
Shinichi quickly descended into the driver's seat, "Sure, we were thinking of going there too...." He slightly turned as Misaki quickly got into the car.
A light bang was heard when she shut the passenger door and fasten her seat belt, "Yes, it has been a seven years since we have talk to mom and dad, they would be happy to see Jun...."
A/N: So what do you think? I would love to hear your comments, even a litte kudo would provide encouragement for me to continue. :)
Chapter 2: Episode 1
~ Chapter 1 ~
"Mommy, can I play over there?" The petite child pointed under the shaded area of the fifty-year-old maple tree.
"Sure, just be careful," the young woman replied as she watched the girl quickly skipped toward the area in her soft yellow dress and neatly combed ponytail. The woman held back her long silky hair, she turned to switch her position on the navy blue blanket on the deep green lawn. She raised a tall wine glass toward another woman who laid on the grass wearing a pair of black sunglasses for protection of her eyes.
"Yukie-chan, here's to your 30th birthday!" She raised the glass and took a sip before reaching for the wicker picnic basket.
The woman's nose wrinkled for a split second, reached for the half-filled glass and gulped the content. "Thanks, Yuko, I'm the big 3-0 today, I only wished that I could turn back the clock."
Nakama Yukie shook her head as the corner of her eye observed her child under the maple tree, "What are you talking about? You don't look a day of your age, people would died to look like you!"
Yukie shrugged her shoulders, "That's they all said, but wait until next year, you're going to have doubt."
"Sure, I am," Takeuchi Yuko chuckled, "I'll bet you...hmm...$1000 that I will not."
Her friend laughed violently and extended her right hand, "It's a deal, better have it ready!"
"I'm definitely not losing to you," Yuko noticed her daughter happily spun around in circle as she tried to catch the multicolor butterfly, "Keiko-chan, make sure your set the butterfly free after you're finish looking at it!"
The girl smiled gracefully back, "Yes, Mommy!" She resumed her objectives and ran behind the huge tree trunk.
Yukie glanced at the child and back at her friend, "You must be proud of her...."
"Who wouldn't," she sighed as her laid back with her arms to support her back, "you know how it has been...5 years without him. The first two were hard and miserable, I loved him so much, we had so much planned after our wedding...."
Yukie felt her pain, recalling the days and months, she had spent calming her down, "Yuko, I know the worst is over, you have Ninomiya-san now...."
She gave a soft happy smile, "Without him, I don't know if I could have gone through so much, but sometimes, I feel he is doing so much for Keiko and me. I cannot not say that I truly loved him 100%, but I would do whatever to repaid his love and care."
"Yuko, that feeling I can relate, since Katsu-kun died, I have not have the urge to have someone else. But Ninomiya-san is such a wonderful person, I'm sure, you'll find a way to love him fully."
She broke the roll in half and handed to Yukie, "I will, he's such a great father and husband, so full of life, so loving and so romantic...."
"That's perfect, so what's he going to do for your third anniversary?" Yukie asked in curiosity, she forked a piece of green melon into her mouth.
Yuko blushed a little, "I have no idea, but I know it's going to be perfect and extremely wonderful like the years before."
"I envy you so much, Ninomiya-san is perfect for you, I'm sure he will be happy for the two of you," she smiled at the child as she slowly crawl toward her target.
"I hope so," Yuko sighed, "why was life so hard on him? Isn't Misaki-san and Shinichi-san coming home soon?"
Yukie shrugged her shoulders again, "I have no idea, we only e-mail each other once in a "blue moon." The last time I heard that he opened a travel agency and she is working on her new book."
"It's has been five years since I have spoken to them, when they do email you, please let me know. I want Keiko to see her aunt and uncle," Yuko remarked.
Yukie nodded happily and waved at the child, "Sure, who would have thought our lives would turn out this way? But it's for the best, you found Ninomiya-san and I...well, my shop."
Yuko giggled upon hearing her shop, "Actually, it's shops, you are the owner of five bridal bouquets; I would say that's very successful. But I'm sure you would like an additional to your life, a boyfriend?"
"I'm not as luck as you are, maybe one of these days," Yukie assured herself, "if not, I'll be very happy to live my life by myself...."
"Sure, sure, that's what you have saying now; you want be to ask Kazu-kun for an introduction to some of his finer friends," Yuko joked.
"No, not to offend you, but some of them have their noses pointing in the air so high, you think they have a neck problem. Thanks, but no thanks. I believe in faith, when it comes, it will."
Yuko nodded in laughter, "You're so superstitious, okay, I'm not going to play matchmaker; but don't beg me when you need to."
Yukie raised her right hand, "I swear that I will never...." They giggled, Keiko raced toward the butterfly as it flew higher and higher above her head. "Mommy, mommy, it's getting away!"
Yuko waved her hand to signal her child to come toward them, "Forget about the butterfly, come here," she reached for the small juice box and a piece of white tissue from the picnic box. "Here wipe your forehead."
"Thanks, Mommy!" Keiko plotted herself between the two woman, smiling happily as she sipped from the juice box.
A loud beep alerted them, a casually dressed man stepped out of the driver's side, he turned to them and waved.
"Daddy, daddy!" Keiko raced toward the man as he strolled to them.
Her father patted her on the head and held the child's hand as they walked, "Hi sweetie, are you having funny?"
Keiko nodded delightfully, "Yes, but I couldn't catch the blue and white butterfly, I wanted to show it to
"Where is it, Daddy will help you." Ninomiya Kazunari noticed the ladies sitting on the lawn. "Hi honey...hi Yukie-san!"
Yuko grinned happily as she greeted him, "Hi," she reached for the glass pitcher and pour a glass of lemonade, "here's you go." He thanked her and took a large gulp.
"Hi, Ninomiya-san; you're looking happy today, good news?" Yukie asked in curiosity. Kazunari returned the glass to Yuko, "Yep, the company's stock went to its all time high this morning!"
"That's wonderful, maybe by the end of year, Century will be nominated a third time in "Who's Who?" Their friend commented as she stretched and lifted herself from the ground.
Kazunari smiled, "I hope so, I really hope so," he released Keiko's hand and gave a light peek on Yuko's cheek.
They all laughed as the child ran toward the shiny black four-door saloon.
A/N: Since this is my first Arashi related fanfic, I would love to hear what you are think, is it good or bad? Remember a reader's comment means a zillion to an author. It would certainly brighten my day and bribe me to write more. XD Thank you much! :D
Chapter 3: Episode 2
~ Chapter 2 ~
Jun's sister and brother-in-law smiled happily and nodded, they strolled over to their sedan hand-in-hand as Jun watched. He slowly knelt in front of the gravestone on his left knee and began to speak, "Mom, dad; I'm sorry that I caused to much pain and didn't even had a chance to buried you. I don't deserve to be your son, I only hope that you would forgive me. I had to do this for Tom, he was and still is my good friend; he had so much planned, he was needed at the company to prosper. I know what you are going to say, friends are friends, family is family; but to me, he is both...." Jun sighed, "Mom, dad; I'll be back when I find Yuko, you'll be so happy to see her; this time, we're definitely going to get married. I know you looked forward to that ten years ago; I almost forgot, before I lost contact with, she told me that we have a daughter. I think she's nine years old. I'll bring her along to bring some laughter, I'm sure you will take good care of us from heaven."
Jun quickly rose from the ground, brushed off some of the dirt from his black pants before strolling over to Ying and Shinichi, they held each other in each other arms as they talked. Jun chuckled, "You two should get a room, still this lovey-dovey stuff after seven years of marriage."
His sister wrinkled her nose, "You'll be the same when you're with Yuko-chan...."
Shinichi released his wife and opened the passenger door for her, "Jun, love does not stop after marriage, it continues to bloom for the rest of our lives."
Jun shook his head, "You two, Ni-san, you have been around Nee-chan too long; you sound more like a poet than she does."
Misaki declined into the seat, closed the door and poked her head out of the window, "That shows you that we think alike...."
Her husband smiled blissfully, "Let's see how long, you and Yuko-san will get to how we are...."
"I'm sure that it wouldn't take long." He climbed into the back seat, "Oh, I almost forgot, where's my niece?"
"Emi-chan is with my mother-in-law in Austin, she's be back next week," Misaki replied, "She's be thrilled to see her uncle...."
Shinichi shifted the gear to drive and steered out of the parking lot, "...and her big cousin, how old is Keiko-chan anyway?"
"I think she's nine or ten...," Jun said proudly, "I cannot wait to meet her!"
Misaki slid comfortable into her seat, "We are too, she must be a pretty little thing like her mother...."
"...and as intelligent as I am," Jun spoke loudly.
Shinichi and Misaki chuckled, "That's for sure, but she'll be more like Yuko-san," Shinichi commented.
"Hey...there's nothing wrong with that," Jun explained, "I'm only worried that she'll be afraid of me."
"Oh, she'll take time to adjust, you and her will have that father and daughter relationship pretty soon afterwards," his sister said.
Jun scratched his head and glanced at the familiar brick building in front of them. "I don't know a thing about being a father, is there a manual," he chuckled lightly.
Shinichi laughed as he parked into a middle-sized space, "Sweetheart, can you see if I hit anything?" Misaki nodded as she pressed the little black button to lower the window pane. "Jun, I don't think there is even a booklet of the rules and procedures of being a father, it will come naturally. Practice will do."
"Practice, maybe I should get one of those dolls...." Jun said scepticallly as his hands moved up and down in front of him to outline a small child-like shape.
His sister opened the door and carried herself onto the street, "Jun, have you been in there too long? Keiko-chan is nine or ten, not an infant. Just trust what your Ni-san said, you'll know what to do."
"I really, really hope so. I'm nervous, I hope she likes this," Jun reached near the floor of the car and carried a middle-sized bag with a smaller neatly wrapped box. "Thanks Nee-chan for getting it."
Misaki placed her arms around her brother's shoulder, "No problem, I'm sure she will...."
"...your Nee-chan and I have a little something for her too," Shinichi instructed his wife. Misaki reached into her purse and lifted a small red jewelry box, inside was a pure 24K gold chain with a matching small pendant.
Jun shook his head, "You two, it's too much. I cannot accept it!"
They smiled, "You have to, it's our first time meeting our niece; it's tradition, Mom and Dad would turn in their graves if we didn't."
"Thank you, really thank you," Jun said as they began to walk up the stair and onto the third floor.
Jun straighten out his shirt and pants, cleared his throat before knocking on the door, he was so excited, so happy, so nervous; he had waited for the past ten years for this day. Shinichi and his sister smiled gracefully as they stepped beside him.
"That's strange, there's no answer, maybe I should knock harder," Jun said when he tried a second time, then a third and a fourth, but no one answered the door. "I guess they must be out...Nee-chan, do you have the key?" She nodded and reached into her purse and handed Jun the key a few seconds later. His anxiousness rosed as he turned the knob, he had waited so long to return to this home. He slowly opened the door and found himself in a shocking scene.
"Nee-chan, look at this," Jun said, he walked over to the room, all of the furniture was covered in white cloth. Dust laid on top of the window ledge like cake icing, the several left over paper on the floor had turned yellowed.
Shinichi had wandered into the inner level of the home as Misaki stood by her brother, "It seems like they moved a while ago.... Jun, when did she stop writing to you?"
"Huh...," Jun was still lost in thought, where could she be? He assured himself that nothing was wrong, she was okay. "...oh, about five years ago...."
Misaki patted Jun's left shoulder, "Don't worry, we have a name, we'll be able to find them...."
Shinichi had suddenly popped his head into the hallway from the end room, "Misaki, Jun...I think you should look at this!" They quickly sprinted over to where he was.
"Oh my god!!" Jun had covered her mouth in shock, she glanced at Jun who stared into his own picture. It was hang on the door with black and white ribbons around the frame, resembling a memorial of a person who had passed away.
A/N: Hehe...I'm going to be cruel and leave a cliffhanger. *smirks evilly* I hope that you did not find this chapter to be too disappointing, please do drop me a line or two to let me know your thoughts. :D
I also would be give special thanks for raene_9 for being the first brave soul to comment! *hugs* I truly appreciate your support, as well as, everyone that had stopped by! XD
Chapter 4: Episode 3
~ Chapter 3 ~
"Daddy, can you read me one more story, pleassse," Keiko begged her father, she laid under her kitty theme blanket.
Kazunari shook his head, "Not tonight, it's already 10:30 and you have a big day tomorrow, young lady." He pull the soft fleece blanket near the child's shoulder.
"One page, please. I promise to sleep right afterwords, please," Keiko continued her begging as she smiled delightfully at the man.
Kazunari just couldn't resist and nodded, "Okay, one page that it; you're going camping tomorrow and you need rest to have energy."
The child agreed as her father strolled over to the four-shelved bookcase and picked out a thick book, he searched the index before turning to the middle of the book, "How about a riddle?" Keiko nodded happily as Kazunari began to read, "Daily Lily...."
Yuko had lean against the door frame, watching her husband read and her child fall slowly asleep. She hugged herself, smiling blissfully. She slowly walked away and into the next room; she plotted herself into the St. Anne's style chair and noticed the calendar. "Today was suppose to be the date he would have been released...," she sighed, remembering how shocking it to find out that he was killed in a gangster fight in prison. Yuko leaned back onto the cushioned chair, closing her eyes, trying to picture him.
A light tap on her shoulder frighten her as she jumped from the chair, it was Kazunari, "Sweetheart, are you okay?"
Yuko nodded, "I was thinking about something, is Keiko asleep?"
Kazunari nodded as he placed his firm hands onto her shoulders, giving her a back rub, "Yes, she is; Keiko-chan seems so excited about the camping trip with her friends, are you going too?"
"No, what fun would like be to have your mother watching you...," Yuko explained, "I never liked it when Mom wanted to come along; she even would let me go alone to my senior trip!"
"True, it's a good idea of letting her become independent early. I'm going to Shanghai for two days, you want to come along?" Kazunari asked as his wife quickly rose from the chair. She smiled lightly, "Not this time, I would be a burden. Besides, Yukie-chan and I have something planned for the weekend...."
"Okay, I'll bring a little something for you and Keiko-chan...," her husband spoke calm as he embraced her, "I cannot believe it's our third anniversary already, you want anything special?"
Yuko thought for a second before answering, "Hmm...nothing, you have given too much already...you'll be the perfect present."
"Nonsense, my wife deserves the best, I'll plan something totally different than last year's," he yawned.
Yuko blushed, they broke apart, "You better get into bed, I'm going to take a shower...." Kazunari released his hold of his wife's hand and watched her walk into the bathroom. His smiled disappeared, knowing what she was thinking about "him." They have been married for almost third years now, why couldn't she let go? He was her beloved now; they share a life together, not "him." Why didn't his death wipe "him" completely out of her mind? She was his and his only, all of this waiting was driving him nuts. Kazunari clutched his fist, he didn't have the time or the patience anymore; he couldn't let his own wife be thinking of another man while he was standing here. What was he going to do?
"We have a record of a Matsumoto Jun-san pronounced died on May 14, 2007 at 9:42 A.M.," the young lady behind the marble counter, a thick file laid on the counter as she flipped to the death section.
Misaki's and Shinichi's eyes widen in shock as Jun stared at the woman if she had grown six heads. His mind become paralyzed as he tried to process the new information. His sister began to speak, "How could this be? No one ever notified us of my brother's death," she was about to point out that the actual Matsumoto Jun was standing in front of them, but throw the thought out the window, believing the city clerk would not be convince of their story.
"We are truly sorry,” she bowed her head apologetically. “If you were in the United States at that time and a contact number was not available, it might have impossible for us to....” The woman then quickly skimmed the page, looking for something. “...we were able to notify a Takeuchi Yuko....” she explained while providing an address and phone number.
Jun sighed deeply; he had recognized the contact details immediately, it was the same location where they were less than half an hour ago.
Jun then burst out loud, "What if he is not," Shinichi gave a nudge on his arm, "What...if, I'm just hypothetically speaking?"
"Well, he would have to come into here with the proper identification, proof of his exists by at least x people, and we would have to go under investigation. It's an extremely long process...," the lady expounded.
Shinichi glanced over at his brother-in-law, "Miss, if we are able to provide all of this, would you able to tell us, how such a false report could be created?"
"This...I'm not familiar with, but when the process starts, I think our investigator can...."
Jun shook his head in disbelief, he was a walking "died" person, "How in the world would this happen?"
"As I explained before, I'm...."
"You're not familiar with it... thanks anyway," Jun quickly scrambled to the the office door and violently jerked it open as speechless Misaki followed. Shinichi was the last one to step onto the busy Tokyo street.
Misaki looked at his brother who was alive and standing in front of her, "Jun, I don't know what to say...we will get to the bottom of this...the best lawyer will be hired...."
"All I can say is this is surreal and creepy, who in the world would do this?" Shinichi interrupted, embracing his wife who was almost in tears.
"That has already been said, how can someone pronounce me died when I am standing right here? I don't have any enemies, even if I did who would be this brilliant to do this?" Jun was overwhelmed and suffocating in anger and horrification. "What if they are using my death to do something awful to Yuko? Oh my god, that's why she stop sending me letters!" He panicked, "Nee-chan, we have to find her! I don't care about my death at the moment, we need to know if she and Keiko-chan are okay or even alive?" He raced into the parked sedan, scrambling for the correct key to open the driver's side door, "Come on, come on, I'm driving!"
His sister and brother-in-law did as told, they quickly descended into the back seats as their minds still numb from as before. A few minutes later, Misaki was the first to speak, "Jun, where the hell are we going?"
Jun had already merged with the traffic by that time, trying not to scream, "I don't know, I really...really don't know!"
A/N: Woot, I'm grinning like a Cheshire cat on sugar-high!! Love all of the comments, they are like little bribes and give me strength to continue with the story. XD Arigatou gozaimasu! :D
I do love Nino to bits in real time, but when I adore him even more as a scheming demon. LOL It certainly makes things more interesting and fun, ne?! ;) Also, don't stab me for making poor Jun-kun suffer, things will get better soon...well, eventually. :)
Chapter 5: Episode 4
"Sharon-san, you look dazzling in the gown," Yukie praised the young woman dancing in a beautiful, white satin wedding gown. "I told you that every woman will look absolutely wonderful on her wedding day, I'm sure Aoki-san will say the same."
The woman smiled blissfully while she blushed a little, she quickly stepped off of the platform, "Thank you, Yukie-san. I'm sorry for making this appointment so late, I'm sure you're tired...."
"Nonsense, you're a good friend, you can make your appointment at midnight and I'll rush myself over here," the two woman chuckled, Sharon walked into the fitting room as Yukie stood outside, "I cannot believe you and Aoki-san are getting married, how long has it been?"
Sharon answered from the other side of the door, "Six years, six long and hard years, but we're going to make the best of things now."
Yukie was happy for her friend, but every joyful customer that walked in, only brings the sadness and memories. Katsu-kun had died of cancer two and a half years ago; he and Yukie were immediately wedded after he was diagnosed, and spent the remaining a year and two months together. They were the happiest days of her live; they were bickering childhood friends who turned into a loving couple. They had so much planned with their careers and life together; Katsu-kun was a photographer, he had captured the most memorable and most saddening scenes of Japan. He was a healthy man, always active and lively until he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Yukie remember the day, he had told her about the news and insisted that they break up. She was horrified by his answer, their year engagement couldn't just going to dissolve like this; their love would continue with or without cancer. She was with him until the every end; she had stayed with him on his death bed, comforting and encouraging him. As reality hit Yukie, she sighed as she turned to the bride-to-be Sharon who had changed back into her regular clothes.
"Thank you again, Aoki-kun and I will be back to pick them up on Saturday," Sharon waved to Judy as she strolled out the bouquet.
Yukie returned the wave, she grabbed her brown leather purse and quickly closed the shop. She pulled down the steel store front, locking it securely before walking down the street.
"That will be 2345 yen," the cashier bagged the several items on the counter, Shinichi reached inside his back pocket for his wallet. "Man, things are expense in Tokyo...," he handed the cashier three large bills. The man behind the counter smiled, "You must be from out of town...," he politely hand in 655 yen in charge. Shinichi nodded, "Thank you, I just moved back from the United States...."
"Really, it must be nice to be back," the cashier said as he handed the plastic bag to Shinichi and thanked him for his patronage.
Shinichi grinned, "It sure is, there's nothing like Tokyo even in the Big Apple." He turned to the next lane in the shop before heading to the front door. At the moment, a familiar face had walked into the store. He wanted to greet the individual, but stopped. Shinichi took a few more glances, she grabbed a few bags of chips and lined up in the queue.
Yukie had noticed the man's staring, trying to ignore him, she had turned to the magazine rack. She spoke to the cashier for a pack of the herbal cough drops when the man approached her.
"Excuse me, Miss," Shinichi had tapped on her shoulder as she grabbed the plastic bag with her purchased items.
Yukie was annoyed now, "I'm sorry, but I don't know you."
"Miss, are you Nakama Yukie," Shinichi asked politely.
"Yes, and you are," Yukie replied, not knowing why she said yes, if this was getting her into trouble, she was heading for the doors within the next two seconds.
Shinichi was flooded with joy to see his friend standing in front of him, she was definitely a lovely lady compared to the woman, seven years ago, "Yukie-san, remember me Shinichi!"
"Oh my, Shinichi-san, Jun-kun's brother-in-law," Yukie was surprised to see him there, they had stepped aside. Shinichi nodded, relieved that he did not recognize the wrong person. He was sure that he could get some answers of what has happened during the last years, "Yes!" They give a friendly hug to each other and strolled onto the streets.
"Wow, I couldn't even recognize you, you're so handsome now," Yukie joked, "when did you and Misaki-san get back?"
"Yesterday, how have you been?" Shinichi asked, "Heard that you're doing well...."
Yukie grinned light before answering, "I can said that I'm okay, how about you? Last time, I heard you were going to open a travel agency."
"I already have, back here to open another one," he explained proudly, "Misaki would love to see you again, got anytime tonight, we're just down a block." He wasn't going to tell her about Jun nor his "death," he wanted a definite answer and to see her reaction when she sees Jun. He knew Yuko and her were extremely good friends, getting through her would make the mysteries of the past years become transparent.
Yukie was a bit tired, but she couldn't refused his offer. It has been seven years since she saw them, she could phone Yuko as soon as she got home. "Okay, so how long are you guys staying?" They peacefully strolled down the neon-lighted street as they caught up with the lost times.
After the long car ride, Jun and his family arrived at home; it was half past nine and their stomachs were growling from hunger. They decided to let Shinichi to doing the shopping as the brother and sister talked. Jun had calmed down a bit, but he was still extremely worried about his love; life in prison was harsh, but at least, he knew she was safe. Today was suppose to be a day of happiness, a day of celebrations, and a day of reunion, but it has turned into a day of nightmares. Jun was pulling out his hair, trying to recall of the people that they have encountered before he was arrested. He thought and thought until he realized that his best friend, Kazunari was no where to be found too.
Misaki had tapped on her brother's shoulder as she dried her wet hair with a towel, "Jun, why don't you take a shower? It will be refreshing after a long day, Shinichi will be back any minute now." She sat across from Jun and clicked on the television remote.
"Nee-chan, I have a feeling that Kazunari is missing too...," Jun glared at his sister who returned the glance.
"Oh, why do you think that, we have only been around for a day, you might find him tomorrow," Misaki reassured him before returning to the television screen, the news was on.
"I don't know, I have this terrible feeling that what I am going to find out will be horrifying and shocking," he closed his eyes and lower himself on the recliner, "Life after five years would be minor changes, but life after ten years would be a totally different world."
"Jun, what about your company?" His sister asked in curiosity.
"Nee-chan, remember that I'm died now, I didn't have a will, I have no idea where or who has anything of mine. If Kazunari is okay, he should be the proprietor of Century; I wouldn't have to worry about that. Kazunari is a good friend, I can trust him with the business...," the door suddenly opened and in popped Shinichi holding a white plastic bag.
He smiled to his wife and brother-in-law. "Guys, look who I found at the store," Shinichi gently pulled Yukie into the apartment.
"Hi Yukie-san, it has been a while," Yukie hugged Misaki and noticed a familiar face standing next to her, she released her. "Oh my god, how can it be...," she was in shock and in disbelief, her expressions seemed like someone who had just seen a ghost.
Jun calmly stepped toward her, "Hello Yukie-san, it's me Jun...,"
"Jun-san? Am I dreaming or have I been sucked into the immoral world," Yukie stood there, looking at the man in front of her.
"Yukie-san, give me a hug," Jun gave his friend a hug, "You're pretty as ever, how long has it been?"
Yukie still felt she was in the twilight zone, she could feel and touch him, he was real. Judy was speechless to see Ross, alive and healthy in front of her, "Jun-san, it's really, really you. Oh my god, everyone told me that you were killed in prison. You're looking great, even better than ten years ago...."
Misaki began to speak, she wanted to question her, "Yukie-san, I cannot believe how much has changed, how's everyone?"
Yukie nodded, "Everyone is fine, Yu..., she paused and then glanced at Ross, "Oh no, Yuko thought you were died and...."
Jun had immediately grabbed her arms in panic, "...and what?"
Chapter 6: Episode 5
“Bye, Mommy," Keiko waved good-bye to her mother as she trotted her way into the large building. Crowds and crowds of children surrounded the premises, they were dressed in uniform performing the same wave to their proud parents.
Yuko waved blissfully from inside her silver vehicle, she glanced at her child, making sure she was in the school before driving off. She was so proud of Susan, such a sweet and obedient daughter. She was smart too, always top 5% of her class; Yuko never pressured the child, as long she does well and happy, it was enough for a mother. There was so much of her in Susan, her energy and her thoughts...there was much of Jun too, his strength and his confidence....
It was Thursday today, the weather was a bit too humid and too dry for April, but as long it was here, Yuko was going to enjoy every moment of it. She glanced at the dashboard for the time, it was 8:13 A.M. Kazunari had left early for his business trip to Singapore and Keiko to her camping trip. Yuko had more "herself" time than in five years. She had dismissed their housekeeper for an early weekend, she did not see the point of having her around if there was no else but here. She reorganized her thoughts before steering into the morning traffic.
"I should get canvas and several new brushes," Yuko thought, there was no point wasting a beautiful spring day. "I could start painting around noon...and get it completed over the weekend." It would be just perfect for her; though painting was just a hobby, she loved every moment she could step into the artistic world and forget her worries. Painting was one of many new hobbies that Yuko had picked up after resigning from her teaching profession.
When Kazunari and her became engaged, he had consisting insisted that she should become a housewife. His company had rewarded him a generous salary, he felt that there was no need for a president's wife to slave over work day in and day out. Though, she rejected the through a few times, she finally give in and agreed that she would not apply the following school term when the wedding drew near. Yuko felt she needed to let her love for teaching free in exchange for a new beginning. Now her spare time consisted of fulfilling things that she had never gotten around to before like painting, writing short stories, volunteering, etc. Yuko was even more busy than before now and loved it to bits. However, the thought of stepping back into a classroom again, never left her mind.
Yuko quickly spotted a parking space, clicked on her right directional signal and carefully reverse the vehicle into the space. She grabbed the small black purse on the passenger side and stepped onto the curb. The warm sunlight touched her soft cheeks as she closed the car door. After placing a pair of sunglasses on, she headed west before strolling into a large store with a beautiful display of arts and crafts.
Jun stared into the bathroom mirror as he turned the hot water value off; the image staring back was a 36 year-old man. He had never realized how much he had aged, has the years and years in prison smeared wrinkles all over his face? He sighed, so mixed in emotions; he was anger and devastated, how could his love be married to his best friend? Jun lowered his head as his hands clutched the sink vanity, was he in pain or in shock? It was probably both, but he thought deeper...he could never blame them. He was supposedly died...he was died, he had no existence in Tokyo, in Japan in Asia, in the world!
He clutched the sink harder, "Whoever did this is going to pay!!" Jun had screamed causing Misaki and Shinichi to wake up, they rushed into the bathroom.
"Jun...," his sister asked in concern. Misaki was as heartbroken as he was, how could one take so many surprises in one day? She signaled her husband for comforting words.
Shinichi nodded instantly, walked into the bathroom and placed his hand onto his brother-in-law's shoulder. "Jun," he sighed, "I know it's very shocking even your sister and I don't believe it, but you have to be strong...."
Jun's lips form a weak smile, "Ni-san, I will, I will...," he released Shinichi's hand and give them both hugs. "Don't worry about me..really, I'll be okay.... I just need to vent...."
"Jun, we will always here, just let us know when you need someone to talk." Misaki hated seeing him this way, he had always kept things bottled up inside when he was young. She hoped deep inside her heart that he will open up so the events that had occurs years ago would not resurface.
Jun gently slid out of the bathroom, reassuring them, "I'm okay, really!" He quickly walked toward the living room, "I'll be back around noon...."
"Jun, it's only 8:00...why don't you get some more rest?"
"I really need to take a breather, sleep would do any good for me....”
Shinichi wrapped his arms around Misaki's shoulder, "Go ahead Jun, we understand and don't be late for lunch. It will be at 12:30!" He give a slight smile, hoping to lightly the mood.
Jun was gratefully and nodded, " I'll be back at noon, promised!" He grinned as they watch him stroll into the hallway."
Misaki sighed as she heard the door closed, "Why is God doing this to Jun...he has done nothing wrong..all he wants is happiness." She was in tears now, her brother has suffered so much, why in the world was he being punished
Shinichi had walked his wife into the living room and embraced her gently. "Shh sweetheart, we're going to hire the best attorney in Japan and find all of this!"
Misaki pull back slighly, "...but Yuko-chan and him will never be together again!" She softly wiped the teardrops on her face, "Why did he have to be the scapegoat...why does he always place others first and not himself? Why couldn't he just tell us who had pocketed the company's funds? WHY?"
Tokyo had definitely changed dramatically in the last ten years, the buildings had grown taller, the streets had become more crowded, the people had grown less friendlier. But this was what he had predict back in 2000...as people stepped into the new century, friendships and marriages were no longer important, money was and the "survival of the fittest." Jun had dreamed if he had lived through the change, how would his life be different? A proud president of a well-known corporation, a caring husband, a happy father, a...there was no much that he would have missed..now it was all just a dream. It would never become reality again, he was died....
Jun kicked an empty soda can on the ground, making it tumble down the street. He recalled the last words that Yuko had wrote to him, "I'll always love you, more matter where you are, I'll be waiting forever...." He swallowed hard, "...I'll be waiting forever...." She had only meant it if I were alive, there was no such thing as forever or until eternity; it was only a phrase to butter up poor souls like himself. No human on earth could live alone for the rest of his or her life, could he? The lost of warmth and comfort of your mate could be restored from another; the image of Yuko and Kazunari slowly appeared in his head, "They seem like a couple...the perfect couple...."Though there was a sense of emptiness and burning anger, Jun didn't want to separate them. If Yuko was happy, it would be enough for him; he'll have to wait in his second life for her. Seventeen years of love and pain would have to be kept lock in his heart...Kazunari was a good man, he would be perfect for her.
Yukie-san had promised not to expose of his existence to anyone until he thought of something, Jun knew hiding from his "problems" would never be the answer. He'll have to think of something clever, blessing Yuko and Kazunari without letting them know he existed. Jun shook his head, it had began to "hurt" from his sleepless night. He glanced at the street sign and smiled lightly to the familiar name. "At least, some things don't change, I wonder if that arts and craft store is still there...."
A/N: Next week is going to be a hectic one for me so I decided to do a double posting. ^.^ Feel free to bribe me to write faster by letting me know your thoughts! So comment and comment some more! :D I might be slow on reply back, but all are wonderful. :)
Chapter 7: Episode 6
"Ninomiya-san, we would love it if you could join us at next week's party, in celebration of Phoenix’s twentieth anniversary." the elderly gentleman spoke gracefully to Kazunari as he clasped the clamp on his black briefcase.
Kazunari smiled politely and agreed to the proposal without a second thought, "It would certainly be an honor to be invited to such a special occasion. We truly thank you for your partnership with Century...."
"Absolutely, Takahashi-san and I could never trust anyone else with our company's investments.... Your father would be proud to see you in such a prospering state."
"Thank you, you have my eternal gratitude...." Kazunari rose from the chair as he responded respectfully, "I'll see you at the hotel tomorrow evening." He bid farewell to them and proceeded to the elevator.
He smiled happily, " Only two more to go!" Confidence and luck seem to always be on his side since he met her...ah, his Yuko. Kazunari spirits were lifted even more now at the though of his lovely wife and his today's success. These meetings were brief, usually around twenty minutes or less. All it took was him presenting the renewal contracts to the Century's partners and the deal was sealed. Adding a few praising words here and there were his specialty and always left satisfying results. Then, another five years were signed away to him...well to the company.
Kazunari grinned in certainty at the thought of these assets. Though, there was no need for him as the CEO of the company to personally attend this appointments, however, it was an excellent tactic to show how special these customers were to the organization. Almost 99% of the time, the clients in Singapore nodded in agreement to the renew without even lefting a finger since they were long time customers, friends of his parents, friends of his...and of Jun's.
He cringed at the thought of the name, but quickly dismissed it. Nothing was going to damper his day, not even him, and he gradually went back recalling his accomplishments. Century had become a prestigious financial firm within a short span of 10 years, rated number one in Tokyo and top 100 in Asia. If they didn't let Ninomiya Kazunari in charge of their investments, who else could they put their trust to?
From the cool air-conditioned building, Kazunari stepped foot onto the busy and crowd Singaporean street. He was greeted by the warm and pleasant afternoon sun. He glanced at his watch and was pleased on how quickly the meeting had adjourned. His schedule for the reset st of the day was free, which was perfect. His mind was set on browsing through the small novelty shop that his eyes had caught upon arrived on the street. Kazunari was determined to find a special souvenir for Yuko.
Kazunari happily strolled down the street for a few minutes while passing a few businessman who hurriedly returned from their lunch break. He then took a sharp left turn at the corner where his rental car was parked.
His key-chain was swiftly removed from his pocket to unlock the driver's side door and his briefcase was gently thrown into the back seat. As the car door was closed, a slight ringing sound from his coat pocket was heard. Kazunari reached inside and a silver cell phone appeared. It was answered as the engine key was turned, "Hello...."
The sudden reappearance of Matsumoto Jun was shocking, unbelievable, and scary. Never in her life would have Yukie have dreamed of seeing him again. Although, she was never a religious person, it was logical to believe that that spirits was the deceased would have gone to a better place. As she become engrossed in her thoughts, the movement of the silver spoon had rapid and the liquid continued to swirl round and round in the teal-colored porcelain mug.
Yukie knew there was little to no chance that Yuko-chan was throw her current life away. "Enough was enough, worrying about it would not make a difference! How in the world was she going to keep her promise to Jun-san?”
Yukie stared at the cellphone that sat on the coffee table a few inches from where you sat. It has been five years since Yuko had suffered without him and now he was back! Though,Yuko strongly held onto their memories, her morals remain traditional. "I feel so sorry for them, their love for one another can be sense miles away....
Knowing that her friends could not be together, but only allowed to dream of what could of happened had anger Yukie to bits. “Life was just unfair," she was in rage and then sighed heavily. It was for them and herself, why did Kami-sama* torturing them? Why was happiness only a blink of an eye, wasn't it suppose be eternity? Were only happy-ever-afters only in stories? From what Yukie had experienced and seen, her conclude was a definite "no." Probably, the only way to avoided being tortured by love was to live life alone.
Happiness filled Jun's heart when the Miyagi-san Arts and Craft sign appeared in the distance. His footsteps were halted when he drew near the crowded intersection. As he waited anxiously for the traffic light to turn to green, he recalled that Yuko had loved to spent her Monday afternoons at that shop.
The images of her browsing through Miyagi-san had brought a blissful smile on Jun's face. He remember how her enthusiasm peaked whenever she illustrated her dream on becoming an artist. He knew that her heart was set to purchased the beautiful paint set that displays in the shop's window, but always backed up due to its lavish price. She then would settle for a regular set of multicolored paint, brushes, and a one or two white canvas.
This had became a routine a year before Jun's world had changed forever. He adore her little quirks, especially when she pouted after each store trip without the so-call item and gave him little explanations to why the next trip will be the one.
Jun sighed sadly, wondering if Yuko's dream had finally came true. His thoughts continued as he gradually crossed the intersection along with the bypassers. She had caste aside her love of painting due to her teaching profession. "I cannot just forget my students and grab a brush...maybe next sometime in the future," this was always her answer. Her students were her life, each and everyone of them were a part of her. At times, Jun thought they were most important than him, but this was not a negative. As long as she loved what she was doing, he was support her 100%.
As Jun walked closer to the store, he noticed the small unchanged cafe across the boulevard. They had spent a good majority of their afternoons there too after each visit to Miyagi-san.Although, it was mainly for a coffee and a little pastry, it was time well-spent, just talking about their dreams and getting away from the daily city life.
Looking back in time brought so many wonderful memories. Like the one about Yuko describing how the paint brush was her weapon and the white canvas was the enemy. “All cover in beautiful colors and no single while spot left,” as she would put it. Jun chuckled lightly as to how amusing the statement was. A little animated image would pop into his mind each time she was described it – the little darling brush trying to run after the white canvas who was hopelessly defending itself.
"Should I visit her....," He pondered at the question for a few second before glanced at the store display covered in colorful decorations. Eagerness and nervousness quickly surfaced as Jun recalled his conversation with Yukie-san. The news of Yuko marriage was already too shocking that he did not press for more information.
“She might still be at the elementary school.... A friend visit another friend...," Jun paused and sighed heavily. “Friends, huh?” The sound of the word was so displeasing to him now, could he even face her and stay neutral?
He lingered at question for a few minutes in front of the store before he noticed a neatly-dressed woman and petite girl walking by. He was brought out of his reverie when the angelic child waved happily to him. Jun returned the gesture with a polite smile which gave him a new determination.
At that instant, he made up his mind and was going to see her no matter what. He quickly drafted on how to watch her from afar, in a disguising himself as a parent so he could wait on the school ground until Yuko leaves the building. Her smile would be the key factor to all of this. As soon as this was seen, Jun will put a closure to their relationship.
He frowned slightly at the thought of never being able to see Yuko again. As much as he loved her, there was absolutely no way he was going to be a burden or interfere her current life. He forbid it. If she choose Kazu-kun, then he would be happy for her, period. Jun nodded firmly, assuring himself that his reasoning was correct.
Jun was brought out of his abyss once again, this time it was due to a series of light chimes from the store door. He glanced at the customer that was opening the door, he could tell she was sophisticated by the way she was dressed and her side profile. Jun gasped in recognizing who the individual was, what he had dreamed about for the past ten years was going to appear in front of him.
A/N: *Kami-sama is the Japanese word for deity, some form of holy or god-like being.
I apologize for the lack of updates, it's been so busying in RL, but I promise to keep up with this as long as I can. ;) Oh, I have decided to have the all of the other Arashi members make cameos in this series, woot! LOL Not sure when though, but each will be in there in some shape or form. ;) Wish me luck me and I truly appreciate all of your comments and support! :D
Chapter 8: Author's Note
Heya everyone! Just letting you know that I haven't abandon this story, been so busy in RL that I don't even have time to breath. @_@ The next chapter is in the works and will be posted shortly. Thank you again for staying me with for so long and have a wonderful rest of September. In the mean time, please leave some love so I know that you are still interested. ^_^