THANK YOU FOR RECOMMENDING TRANSCENDENCE FOR A FEATURED STORY! It was quite a shock to see, I had no idea that it even was on the radar like that. I am so honored guys and so blessed! Thank you! This really means so much! Thank you Chamber fam! *kisses and hugs*
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
The wind howled, the crisp cold cutting straight it seemed to the very sinew and bone. All around was mist, thick and heavy. The moon was high and bright and the darkness of the clouds quietly moved. He stood in the middle of an empty road. Quiet. Still. Curling wisps of vapor teased his skin, bringing goosebumps. And in the time it stood still, slowly she would appear. Soft, almost dancing on the wind like an ember of flame. Her brown foot bare touched the ground and from it a burst of butterflies sprung forth, leaving warm sunny ground in its wake. She would come to him and he could do nothing but stare. He tried several times to reach out to her and touch her but found it wasn’t possible. She didn’t open her mouth but there sat on her full lips a smile. She smiled as though she was free of any and all pain. Her eyes didn’t hold the hatred he expected but rather only neutrality. Familiarity. The moment he would open his mouth to say, “Are you content? Are you happy?” the dream would end. And he would wake up, his body wet with sweat. Through the years, these dreams had come to him almost every night it seemed, tormenting him. He couldn’t live with the guilt of hurting the woman he once called his. But over time, the dreams grew less frequent and he had guarded his heart with an iron wall.
Glancing over at the woman who laid in his bed, he tightened his jaw. The sight of her once brought the feeling of repulsion. He didn’t want to touch her, see her or even talk to her. She was what a lot of men would kill for: Beautiful, smart and rich. And whether he wanted to or not, ten years with her had produced attachment. He couldn’t say he absolutely hated her… not anymore. He wasn’t a young man any more and reality had become more important than idle fantasy. Reality had a rather cruel way of sobering you up. He was 28 years old now. His biological clock was ticking and he was feeling the pressure. The pressure to procreate. To marry. He wanted children. He wanted marriage. Just not with her.
It was foolish to desire someone you couldn’t have, who had been long gone and more than likely had a good life. He had tried to move on with his life. But he couldn’t help and wonder about her. What was she doing now? What was her life like? Had she found someone else? Memories of her laughter fluttered in his mind like the sweetest melody. He still could remember the soft press of her lips and the overwhelming sweetness that flowed from them like honey. Sensations and feelings that haunted him.
He sat up and moved the leg that had been thrown over him. Placing his feet on the cool floor, he made his way onto his balcony. The early morning was approaching, the sky starting to show signs of the sun. Running fingers through his hair, he leaned on the banister and let the cool air flow through his fingers.When he thought of his life, it was full of mistakes. Things in his past that he wanted to make right. If not for anyone else but for him. He wished he could live without regret. He wanted to live as he once did… Could he honestly fall truly and madly in love again? Could he trust that woman with his heart and soul, his body and mind? He wasn’t sure if there was another who could love so openly as the girl who still lived in his dreams. Was it horrible that he considered trying? Through the years he had grown tired. Worn down. So close to giving in.
“Hiro?” A soft voice called out in the quietness. A voice so sweet and gentle yet nothing like… like hers.
“Is everything okay?” He took a deep breath, unconsciously fingering the tiny chain around his neck. It had been a source of pain for him but now he wore it as a sign of survival and of love. Once his heart was broken but it would once again be whole. Someday.
“Go back to sleep.” He heard sheets shift and soon felt arms come around his waist.
“It’s nothing.” He pulled her arms off of him. “Go back to sleep.”
“Why do you do this? Why don’t you let me in?” He looked at her.
“I’ve said enough. I don’t think you need to hear anymore.”
“Would you like something to eat?” She sighed and pressed her cheek into his shoulder blade.
“We can have our maids fetch us something, Why must you dirty your own hands?” He pulled away from her and started to head back into the bedroom.
“I simply asked you if you were hungry Noa.” Now she understood how she was starting to cross into a boundary he didn’t want to bother going. Rarely had he ever called her by her given name. She gave up with a sigh.
“Do as you wish.” It had been discouraged but still he did it. It wasn’t becoming of a man to cook. It wasn’t becoming of an Iwase man to dirty his hands when he didn’t need to. But, his hands rather liked the dirt. He said not another word and made his way into the kitchen. She didn’t follow him. Alone with the pots and pans, he felt peace; like he could regain a little piece of himself that he feared he had lost along the way.
“Mr. Iwase? Mr. Iwase!” The voice of a woman screeched into the phone, making him stiffen. Clearing his throat, he licked his lips.
“What is it?”
“Were you listening to me?”
“No.” The woman sighed deeply.
“I was telling you that your mother has been sent to the hospital. Perhaps you will visit her?” Lips grew thin.
“I have work to do.” Surely, the woman on the other line was shocked, her silence stunned.
“You won’t visit your own mother?”
“She will live.”
“If you have nothing else to report then thank you.”
“Y-yes sir.” He hung up the phone and got up from his desk. He went to stand in front of the large glass window encasing his office. Down below, the tiny specks that were cars and people fascinated him. How high up he was. But, he wished he could be down there with the rest of the ordinary society.
“Hiroto?” Turning, he faced the woman to whom he was obligated to marry. Obligations, obligations. They were a funny thing.
“Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be at the hospital with my mother?” Too hard. His tone seemed to cut right to her heart. She swallowed and looked down.
“I wanted to see you. I told Mother I would bring you.” A vein in his temple twitched.
“Noa, I have work to do. Please go back to the hospital.”
“Will I be getting in your way?” He sighed and walked past her to sit back down in his chair.
“Must you be so cold? I just wanted to see you.”
“Come. Sit.” She took a shaky breath and sat down across from him.
“How is she?” He asked as he flipped through some papers.
“You should ask her yourself.” Her response was met with silence.
“Have you eaten lunch yet? I brought you something just in case you hadn’t.” At that, he looked up and to his chagrin, his stomach growled as if to thank her. She laughed.
“I’m glad I did.” He nodded, his expression cool.
“I will eat then.”
“Please.” He put the papers down and grabbed the outstretched bento she held in her hands. She suddenly looked ten times happier and smiled as she gave him some hashi. Opening a small container, she waited until he began to eat before taking a bite of hers.
“Can I ask you something?” He looked at her.
“Why must you call me by that name?”
“It is the name you were given at birth. Why would I not call you that?” She fidgeted, chewing slowly.
“Not many women in Japan are named Noa. Not any I’ve come across.” He continued, chewing some vegetables.
“It’s so strange don’t you think? It’s not a normal name.”
“You would prefer then that I call you Kiko?”
“May I ask why?”
“I like it better. It sounds better. Normal.”
“Besides, you call me my given name only when you are irritated.” He kept quiet, his silence his answer. She sighed and they continued to eat in silence before he gently closed the box and returned it and hashi back to her.
“Thank you.” She smiled and nodded.
“It is nothing.”
“You should be going now. I’m sure my mother is waiting on your return.” She smiled softly.
“You are probably right.” She got up and got her things.
“Walk me to the door?” At her insistence, he got up and slowly walked her to the door.
“Thank you for coming.” She stopped and looked up at him.
“Are you really happy I came?”
“Well… then I’ll come by again.”
“I’m off then. Please work hard.”
“Of course.” She reached up and laid a hand softly on his cheek. He grew still.
“Can I tell you something? Truthfully?” He tightened his jaw but gave her a nod.
“Just once… One time is all I ask.”
“My lips to meet yours.” Her eyes grew watery and she sighed and let her hand fall from his skin.
“I know you do not like me much Hiroto. I have tried to convince myself in these past ten years that you would open your heart and let me take all the pain you feel away. But in truth, I am still a woman. I have feelings. It breaks my heart to know you don’t… you don’t want me. So I think… what must I do to make him notice me? Is it my figure? Is it my hair? It hurts to think about it. Please tell me what it is so I can fix it…” He swallowed thickly and reached up to wipe the tears that had fallen from her eyes. Such big brown eyes they were.
“Kiko…I am a difficult man. I cannot promise you the happiness you desire. I cannot promise that my heart shall open to you.” She bit her lip and more tears fell. She gripped his wrist with her dainty fingers.
“I love you Hiroto. I love you so much. Even if you never fully love me… could even a portion of it be mine?”
“Look at me.” She brought her teary gaze to his.
“The pain I have caused you… I am sorry. Your eyes should not be full of tears…” She sighed.
“I will do whatever I have to… I won’t lose you…” He pulled her against him in a hug. She blinked, shimmery tears wetting her eyelashes.
“I will try. I cannot promise you anything. It cannot be the love you want.”
“I don’t care… I just want to be with you.” He looked at her fingers which gripped him.
“Kiko, I do have affection for you.” She lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
“Can you show me? Please… this once Hiro..” He sighed heavily.
“Will it help soothe the pain within your heart?” She nodded once and gripped his suit jacket as he took her face in his hands. He leaned down and breathed against her lips, hesitation making him stop. He had come to realize that indeed Kiko was a fragile woman. If he didn’t handle her carefully, he might shatter her. Another woman’s heart destroyed from his doing was something he didn’t think he could take. He pressed his lips against hers. His eyes remained open yet hers fluttered closed so easily. A sigh left her. He looked at her, his lips not quite as soft against hers. She tried to deepen the kiss but much too soon he had had enough. Everything about it felt wrong. Pulling back from her, he straightened.
“You should go.” She blinked, a pretty blush highlighting her cheeks.
“Ah… y-yes…” She bit her lip as she bowed and walked away from him, a dreamy expression on her face. Once he was alone, he wiped his mouth with his fingers and sat back down at his desk. That was somewhere he couldn’t go with her. It may break her heart but he couldn’t let the loneliness with them both bust from the seams and overflow. That would be a mistake.
The waves were familiar to him and they seemed to be happy to greet him. The sand still warm from the hot sun. He heard a sigh behind him and turned to see Tobu. Out of all the people who had come and gone in his life, Tobu remained one of his closest friends. While all else sought to destroy him, he had been there to hold him up. Tobu too had aged and he wore it well. The scrawny kid had grown up and into his body, the muscle he worked hard for adding to the leanness. He was bigger than he was in high school but that wasn’t all that had changed about him. He still blushed a lot, especially when he was drunk. But the shyness that had consumed him as a teenager had disappeared. He had let the world teach him a few things and now he was one of the most outspoken people he had met. It was quite a contrast from their high school days but it was a welcome one. Even still, Tobu was still Tobu. Flirtatious when he felt like it and boyishly charming. His brother. Brothers until the end.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came because you needed me. Right?”
“I was deciding on my way here if I was going to beat your ass.” He snort.
“Why so violent?”
“Don’t ask me stupid questions Hiroto-kun.”
“How have you been?”
“My days are the same. There is no change.” Tobu kept quiet and watched the waves lap at his feet for a while.
“It has been a while since we’ve had time to hang out. I haven’t eaten really good food and drank good sake in a while.” He smiled.
“Same here. Perhaps we can soon. I need to look at my schedule.”
“Your schedule huh? Man, who knew that you would actually grow up to follow in your father’s footsteps. When we were kids… I thought you would do something different. Be someone different. Now… now you’re the same as every other man out there.”
“Except you.” Tobu grinned.
“The business world and I don’t mix well Hiro-kun. You know that. I’m more of a free spirit.”
“Well you need to free spirit yourself into an actual career.” They shared a laugh.
“You sound like my father.”
“I suppose I’ll figure it out.”
“Mm.” Things grew quiet and he closed his eyes.
“Hiroto, I need something from you.” He looked up at Tobu, who looked at him seriously.
“What is it?”
“I need you to stop playing games.” He blinked.
“With that girl. With yourself.”
“I don’t like her. I never liked her and I never will. She’s not the one I envisioned getting married to you.”
“But we’re both getting too old to be playing kiddie games. Pining over a woman you let go is wasting your time. And your life. I can’t stand to watch you anymore. You have two choices. Marry Kiko and do what your family wants or stay out of it and forge your own path.” He was quiet.
“It’s been ten years Hiroto-kun. You’re not getting any younger and you’re not as lively as you used to be.” He swallowed tightly.
“You’re really giving me this advice?”
“I’m your best friend. Even if I still want to kill you for what you did… at some point… I just… I want to stop this. It’s time you made peace with it.”
“With Rae you mean.” It had been so long since he had actually said her name out loud and the sound of it on his tongue was rough and unused.
“You said it not me.”
“But what is what you implied.”
“I will never accept you with Kiko. She was never the right one for you. But that’s none of my business.”
“You’ve let your mother suck you dry and kill who you are. You may not be a child anymore but will you let yourself die without a fight? Where was the boy who looked at me with such determination and fire? Has he died too?” He clenched his fists together.
“One of the things Rae did for you was set you free. She covered you with such light that you dared to stand up and speak for yourself. Will you rest in the shadow of your mother or will you be bold once again? Think about it my friend.” He gently slapped his back.
“This time…. do it nice and soft. Don’t be so rash and impulsive. These things take time and much careful planning. Whatever it is you do, let it be strategic and effective.” He looked at his friend, who grinned boyishly and felt a smirk come to his face.
“I don’t think that boy was dead. I think he was just sleeping. Now he’s ready to reappear. As a man.” Tobu grinned wider.
“That’s what the hell I’m talking about. I’m with you Hiro-kun. Till the end.”
A/N: Hey guys! Chapter 2 is up! Man, the creative bug has bit me lol. Woo. Another chapter written right after the first one. I hope I can keep this up. I will have to stop for a while though. Midterms are next week and I have quite a bit of studying to do. I hope in that time (or after) I can write more. I believe I have a break coming up too so yasssss! You know what that means lol. First and formost, my babyy Hiroto is back y'all. *sniffs* He (unlike Rae) has not had the best life after LOL. He wasn't going to anyway. I was not going to make his life easy peasy. He is riddled with memories and has really struggled to move on with his life. I think this is a wonderful introductory chapter because it shows the struggle he has had. The relationship with Kiko is another that I wanted to emphasize. Originally, I was going to have him hate her and treat her like crap LOL. But, realistically I think that after 10 years of being around her and at some point living with her, he would form attachment and even affection to and for her. It's normal, it's something we can't stop or prevent lol. I think instead of trying to look at Kiko as this crazy woman, I'm trying to show her in a more humanistic light. She really does love Roto. Now, a question to ask and keep for later is:
- Does Kiko know about the arrangement her family set up with Hiroto's? Was she introduced into this thing totally blind?
Another thing is I encourage questions! Please ask them, as many of them as you would like. I like when you guys are thinking about it! I really enjoy when you guys leave comments and reviews so please make sure to do that. They not only make me happy but they give me an idea of a direction I can take the story, concerns and comments to add or factor into the story and criticisms I can use to improve my writing, etc. Reviews are more important than you may be aware! :D <3
Two: MY BABY TOBUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Okay so I really see Tobu as the brother Hiroto never had and I had to hold off on introducing him too much lol. That might overlap into his own story and I reallllly cannot wait to write about bruh man here lol. I love the way he has matured and grown and how deep he is down for his bro Roto. I think Tobu's shyness as a teenager was so cute and I think that it is only appropriate that now as a man he is less shy and more direct. He definitely showed signs of being direct when addressing Emi so it was there. <3 *sighs happily* Tobu don gon and grew up into a very sexy attractive man. I couldn't be more proud. Now, I need Hiroto to glo up too lol. <3 He gon come up on that glo glo y'all. Trust and believe lol.
Till next time,
God bless and thanks for reading! <3