Table of Contents [Report This]
Printer Chapter or Story

- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:




Friendship-Ritsuko Okazaki 

Slow Dance-Suneohair 




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.


    Fingers held onto hers in a steady grip as they began to walk briskly into Shoutoii. Behind them followed a mob of flashing cameras and reporters. Screaming a million questions per minute, the crowd damn near fought to get into the building. He said not a word as he calmly pressed the elevator button. She inhaled as his fingers came to press lightly against the small of her back.

    “Mr. Iwase! Are you and Ms. Marshall seeing each other outside of Shoutoii?” Ignored. His hand never wavered. 

    “How long has your secret affair with her gone on?” Ignored. 

    “Did Ms. Marshall purposefully come in between you and your fiancee?” His fingers slightly twitched but that question too was ignored.

    “Is it true that your mother tried to kill Rae?” His fingers gripped her back before he let them fall away from her. That could not be ignored. Slowly, he turned to face them, hundreds of flashes and microphones ready to absorb his words.

    “You’ll find out what you want to know with your opportunist digging so I won’t waste my time. When addressing my COO, you will show her respect. You will address her as Ms. Marshall and nothing else. Now, take a swift exit out of the building or I will have security called.” The elevator finally chimed and appropriately, right on time the doors opened and they stepped inside. It was quiet inside as the flashes of lights and hollering voices were cut off by the closing of the doors. For a moment they had peace. 

    “Thank you.” She said quietly, smiling up at him. 

    “Don’t thank me sweetheart.” They stepped out onto a silent floor, the tall glass doors to the main office facing them.

    “Let’s have a good day today.”



    He knew they had been plotting and scheming as soon as Rae had rushed up on that stage. For the first time, they had gotten a glimpse of just what he meant to her and the last thing on her mind was public or business affairs. Since they had left the hospital, they were once again hit with rumors and accusations of every kind. Glancing up at her as she filed through some paperwork, he smiled. But they were indestructible. The whole entire world had seen their love and it had shifted perception of everything.

    “Rae, are you almost ready to go?” She looked up, blinking. 

    “Oh snap! Yeah. I was so engrossed in this work I forgot we gotta head out.” He smiled. 

    “That’s all right.” Setting the papers on the desk, she stood up. 

    “Today, we’re both goin to a luncheon huh?”


    “I hope they got some good food.” Chuckling, he pushed back his chair. 


    “What? You know they always be tryna be fancy with they meals. All I ask for is somethin good.” 

    “I’m sure they will have something suitable to your tastes.”

    “Hm okay.” Glancing down at her fingers, only one interested him the most. There it stood, still completely bare. How absent minded of him for forgetting. They hadn’t had a chance to be alone since he was discharged. The press had been in their faces and work had been even more demanding than usual. Surely, this had to be remedied. 

    “Babe?” His gaze flickered up to hers. 


    “You good?” 


    “Okay then let’s go.” 

    “Sure.” He licked his lips and slid a hand around her waist as they left the office, the many eyes that followed not a concern. 


    “WHAT HAPPENED??” Pulling the phone away from her ear, she bit her lips. The rustle and bustle of people rushed by her and she gripped the phone tightly, bringing it back to her ear. 

    “A, keep it down. I’m at an important luncheon.” 

    “Screw them people. What happened?” She smiled to herself. 

    “Hiroto proposed.”

    “OH MY GOD YES!” She giggled and pressed the phone closer.


    “And what did you say?”

    “I said yes..” Amee squealed into the phone so loudly, she had to yank the phone back sharply. 

    “OH MY GOD EBBIE!!!! THAT IS SO AWESOME! FINALLYYYYY OH MY GOD!” She felt her cheeks flush and licked her lips. 

    “Yeah with what his crazy ass mama did, it was the final push we needed I think.” 

    “You don’t know how long I have been waiting for you to tell me this… Ebbie…” She could hear the tears in her sister’s voice and bit her lip, tears of her own welling up in her eyes. 

    “Yeah… it’s… it’s time…” 

    “Did he give you a ring?”

    “Not yet. We haven’t had that much time to ourselves since comin back from the hospital. We jumped back into work.”

    “That’s understandable.”

    “Yeah it’s cool. We both know in our hearts what the deal is.” Amee squealed again suddenly into the phone, making her pull it away from her ear. 

    “You is engaged! YASSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!” Her heart did flips and warmth spread all across her body when she said it. 

    “Y-yeah…I-I am…” She said softly, glancing up at the many faces that passed her. 

    “Ebbie, I cannot deal. Finally. FINALLY.”

    “I know right?” 

    “You HAVE to let me know when dude pops that ring on you. YOU HAVE TO.”

    “I will. No worries.”     

    “Okay gon back to your little luncheon.”


    “Bye Mrs. Iwase.” She couldn’t control the squeal that came from her belly and clutched the phone tightly. 

    “Ameeeeee.” They shared a laugh before she hung up. With a sigh, she pressed her phone against her chest. She felt her entire being light up as a million stars and chills ran up and down her spine at even thinking about being ‘Mrs. Iwase’.  With another sigh, she stood straight and walked back into the convention room.


    He had been reading through a new initiative plan when he heard a yawn. 

    “Tired?” Smiling up at the woman across from him, he put the papers down. 

    “Yeah. I think it’s time to get to bed. What chu think?” He glanced at his watch and sighed heavily. Truthfully, his body was growing sluggish as well.

    “Yeah. I think we can shut everything down. You can barely keep your eyes open.” She stuck out her tongue at him and he chuckled. 

    “Let’s get out of here hm?” 

    “Thank God.” He folded the papers and put them into a long slender envelope and began to pack up. Soon, they made their way to the elevator. To her surprise, he pulled her against him and sighed against her shoulder. 

    “Roto?” Her voice asked in a question. 

    “Just tired baby…” Her hands came to slip underneath his jacket and slide up his back. 

    “You always the last to leave at night. Course you tired.” She answered gently. 

    “Mm.” The elevator softly made a ding and the small light illuminated the otherwise dimness of the space. 

    “You deserve a good night’s rest.”

    “Mm.” He hummed against her shoulder. He didn’t say anything else but held her close. As the doors opened, they headed to his car. The night was ablaze with streaks of red, yellow, green and white and the sky was clear. Soothing Louis Armstrong played on the ride and before they knew it, he had pulled up to her house. 

    “See you tomorrow… bright and early.” 

    “Mmhm.” He reached across and gently tucked stray curls behind her ear. 

    “Get some sleep babe.” In the lowlight, he could tell she was blushing and smiled. 

    “Y-you too.”

    “I will.” She swallowed before leaning in to peck him on the lips. 


    “Good night.” 


    Her alarm blared, startling her awake. She pressed her face into the pillow, groaning. She had forgotten to turn the damn volume down some. Her heart almost shot into her throat. Sighing deeply, she pressed feet onto the cool floor and made it into the bathroom. Another day had begun and she was determined to have a good one. Yawning, she turned on the cold water and splashed on her cheeks and eyes. After a quick shower, she slid into a crisp white blouse and a navy blue skirt, wrapping a slender gold accent around her waist. Slipping into navy pumps, she headed out. Today, they were supposed to go to one of the centers which she had named Ayako. She was excited because it was one of the first times she would interact with the kids. Smiling, she came up onto her car. Knitting her brows together, she noticed a small note card tucked in between her windshield wipers. Grabbing it, she read it. 



    Good morning beautiful. I wanted to give this to you in person but decided I’d surprise you. I do hope it is to your liking.

With love, 


    She pulled the card away to find a small velvet box tucked into the wiper. Her heart began to beat faster. Lifting shaky fingers, she opened the box and froze. A beautiful diamond stared her in the face. It was cut in a vintage style; feminine curves of the metal swooped around the setting which made her head spin. A demure explosion of smaller diamonds gently adorning the sides of the ring. She felt tears well up in her eyes and she stared at it for the longest time, feeling as if she were walking in a dream. This can’t be real… Biting her lips, she closed the box and got into her car.


    Nibbling on his lip, his fingers breezed across the keyboard. He sat at his computer, small frames sliding down the bridge of his nose. His eyes lifted and his fingers paused as the door to his office suddenly opened.

    “Rae-” Sliding fingers into his hair, she silenced him with a kiss. He blinked at first from shock but soon, his eyes fluttered closed. She sighed against his mouth and her fingers tightened in his hair. His fingers itched but he kept them pressed lightly against her waist. Sooner than he liked, she pulled back some.

    “To what do I owe this pleasure?” He breathed, his voice whispery and light. 

    “That pretty little box you left in my windshield wiper…” He smiled against her lips. 


    “It’s so beautiful Hiroto…I love it…”

    “I was worried you might not like it..”

    “There was no chance of me not liking it.” She whispered against his lips. His gaze met hers.

    “Did you try it on?”

    “I was savin that part for you.” She lifted and reached inside her purse that she has tossed onto his desk. Pulling the box out, she pressed it into his hand. 

    “Put it on me.” He felt his cheeks grow warm. He slowly opened the box. He set eyes upon the ring that had captured him. When he had seen it, he knew it was the perfect expression of the way he felt. It was absolutely perfect. His baby wasn’t materialistic but her beauty was timeless. Picking it up, he turned eyes up to look at her, clutching her hands against her stomach. 

    “Come here.” She inhaled sharply but grew closer. Fingers slid the ring onto her finger, having not shook or trembled. Inside, he felt like a little boy, giddy beyond compare. Tears welled up in her eyes and she lifted her hand, tenderly touching it with her fingertips. Biting her bottom lip, she brought her teary gaze to his. She lifted shaky hands and pressed her palms against his cheeks.

    “Hiroto…” He smiled from ear to ear and slowly stood up, wrapping his arms around her waist. 


    “I love you so much.”

    “I love you too.” She wrapped her arms around him and for the longest, neither one of them said a word. She pressed her face against his chest and sighed as his fingers intertwined with hers.

    “I don’t think words can express what I feel right now.” He whispered against her temple.

    “It was a long time comin but… finally…we’re together at last…” He lifted her fingers to press them against his lips. Glancing down at the ring on her finger, he kissed her fingers again. The profession of their love so public and so blatant was so beautiful. He said not a word as his lips met hers. It was a while before physical words were uttered. 

    “If we don’t go now, we’ll never leave.” He whispered against the corner of her mouth. 

    “Yeah…” She breathed, her cheeks painted with a blush. 

    “Let’s go get em babe.”

    “After you tiger.” 



    The children ran up to them and nearly tackled them before they got in the door. 

    “Mr. Hiroto! Ms. Ebere!” She laughed and picked a small child up. 

    “Hello babies! Are y’all bein good?” 

    “Yes ma’am!” One little boy seemed perplexed by Hiroto and hadn’t stopped staring at him yet. 

    “What’s on your mind little one?” He asked as he crouched down, smiling at him. The boy lifted small hands and squished his cheeks. 

    “My name is Kyouta and I want you to come play with me.” The little boy answered, squishing his cheeks more. At the funny face he made, the kids started to laugh. She chuckled to herself and ruffled the top of his head.

    “I think you got to now Roto.” He pouted childishly, drawing more laughter. 

    “Okay then. You name it, we’ll play.” The boy wrapped both hands around his one, trying to tug him in the direction of the toys. 

    “This way! I wanna play blocks!” He let the young boy pull him and soon they were creating majestic skyscrapers as big as their imaginations would allow. 

    “Ms. Ebere, come play with us.” She slipped off her shoes and came over, sitting next to him. 

    “Wow, look at this! You guys made a really big skyscraper!” The little boy blushed and looked down. 

    “It’s not that big.” Leaning over, she lifted his small chin. 

    “Hey, where’s your imagination? I think it’s pretty big!” His blush grew deeper. 

    “Kyou-kun,” The boy looked up at him, eyes wide. Perhaps it had been a while since he’d been spoken to in his native tongue.

    “Don’t you believe in yourself?” Her expression grew soft at the young boy’s reaction. 

    “I-I don’t know…” 

    “You have so much creativity. Let’s explore some hm?” Kyouta nodded. 

    “What do you see when you look at this?” She asked, smiling at him. 

    “I see a building.”

    “Just a building?” Kyouta nibbled on his lips looking at it harder. 

    “It’s Ayako…” She brightened up and gently rustled the young boy’s hair. 

    “Why’d you pick Ayako?” 

    “Cause this is a good place. And I like it here.” 

    “What else do you feel when you are here?” She asked, glancing at the block building. 

    “I don’t know. I just feel like it’s a good place.” She nodded and glanced at Roto who eyed him with a soft expression. 

    “Kyou-kun, why don’t we build something else? Another place that means something good to you.” The boy was still for a little while but then nodded. 

    “Okay. Why don’t we build a sand castle?” 

    “Okay. We will need water and sand too.” 

    “It’ll be in our head!” He had said it as if it was a no brainer. 

    “Alright then. Let’s get building!” As the two began to build, she watched as Kyou began to laugh and glow. He liked to build things. Perhaps he was a future architect in the making. 

    “You’re building a whole city!” Roto mused, his eyes filled with childish delight. 

    “You’re too slow! I built all of this already!” They shared a laugh. 

    “Mr. Iwase…Ms. Marshall…” The moment was interrupted by an Ayako employee. The playfulness drifted off of Kyou’s face. 

    “We’d like to have you meet some of the other children.”

    “Sure!” She answered with a smile. 

    “Oniisama, will you come back?” At the title, the stoic expression on Roto’s face faltered. 

    “I will. I give you my word Kyou-kun.” The little boy nodded and sighed. 

    “Guess I have to find other kids to play with.” 

    “Kyou, we’re about to eat breakfast. Why don’t we go into the cafe?” 

    “Okay. Bye Ms. Ebere. Oniisama…” He bowed before going with another employee. 

    “What’s wrong with Kyou’s situation?” Roto asked, his eyes following the young boy as he turned around the corner. 

    “I’m sorry?” The woman blinked, following his eye. 

    “The way you interrupted us suggests that there is a problem. I’m asking you what it is.” He turned eyes to the woman who clutched her hands together. 

    “Well… Kyou is one of our more difficult kids here. He’s been through a lot.”

    “Such as?”

    “He was molested by his uncle at the age of five.”

    “How old is he now?”


    “That is ridiculous.” She interjected, disgust written all over her face. 

    “What else is going on with him?” Roto asked, sliding hands into the pockets of his suit. 

    “He was recently orphaned.” Her heart dropped. The poor baby… 

    “What happened to his parents?” 

    “They got into a car crash a few weeks ago and his other relatives didn’t want to take him in. They brought him here.” The severity of the situation made him tighten his jaw. 

    “I see.”

    “Ayako is the best place for him Mr. Iwase. We’ll take good care of him.”

    “Is he in one of the dormitories?” 

    “Yes. With two other boys.”

    “How’s he doing?” 

    “He is distant and does not interact much with the others.” He didn’t reply.

    “Before we leave, we can say goodbye to Kyou.” She suggested softly, looking up at him. 

    “That’s all right. I won’t deviate from our arrangements.” The employees were still as his hand came to press against her back. 

    “Shall we go?” 

    “Yes. We have a surprise up ahead.” They began to lead them down a colorful hallway, decorated with beautiful hand made paintings and drawings the kids had created. All she saw was the inner most nature of a child. When you took away the traumatic events, all you saw was light, life and joy. She felt fingers slide through hers and glanced up at Roto, who smiled gently. 

    “What’s up?” She asked, smiling back at him. 

    “Just watching you.” She felt her cheeks grow warm. 


    “You’re mesmerized by the artists we have here hm?” She smiled again as her eyes danced across the various colors and textures. 

    “Yeah. These kids are so promising.” 

    “Mmhm.” She squeezed his hand. 

    “You’re unusually passionate about Kyou-kun.” He nodded. 

    “I recognize the same signs of emotional detachment in him that I had as a young boy.” 

    “Wow really?” 


    “I noticed his gravitation towards you.” 

    “I will definitely be back to visit him.” 

    “I think it would mean the world to him if you did.”


    “If you would please direct your attention this way…” They looked at the women who smiled gently. 

    “This is our recreation area. Most of the pieces you saw in the hallways were created here. The children come here to relax and get those creative juices working.” 

    “That is awesome!” She said with a huge grin. Roto showed a small smile. 

    “Ayako has so much to offer these kids. It’s a great thing you’ve done Mr. Iwase.”

    “I had nothing to do with this. Ms. Marshall was the brainchild behind all of this.” She felt her cheeks grow warm again and humbly bowed her head. 

    “Ms. Marshall, may I ask why you named the place ayako?” She smiled at the young woman who had asked the question.

    “Aya means color. Ko means child. Ayako embodies what Mr. Iwase and I desire most…to inspire and bring forth the colorful nature of every child. Such promise we can hope for in these kids. I am very excited about the future.” 

    “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” He said, winking at her. 

    “Speaking of kids, here the others come now to greet us!” As they turned the corner, an flood of children came towards them, holding a handmade sign. 

    “Welcome Mr. Iwase!” They all greeted as they came to stand in front of them. 

    “Hello little ones. You didn’t have to come all this way.” 

    “We wanted to say hello.” One youngster said boldly as she pouted cutely.

    “We appreciate it very much sweetness. What’s your name?” She asked, kneeling down to take her hand. 


    “It’s nice to meet you Amirah. I’m Ebere.” 

    “You’re pretty.” She giggled and squeezed her hand. 

    “Thank you. So are you!”

    “The kids were all excited to meet you two. They spent a lot of time creating this sign.”

    “Thank you all so much.” 

    “It appears though that our time has come to an end kids.”

    “We just got to meet them!”

    “That’s not fair!”  He chuckled to himself. 

    “I’ll definitely be back! Don’t worry!” They turned to the women who had accompanied them. 

    “Thank you for showing us around. It’s been a pleasure.”

    “We appreciate you coming to visit us!” 

    “It was no problem at all!” She waved at Amirah who grinned. 

    “Bye guys.” 

    “See you later!” She slid a hand across his arm. 

    “Ready to go?” 

    “Mm.” They said final goodbyes and soon exited the Ayako building. As they slid into the back seat of the car, she took off her shoes. 

    “Good Lord.” She sighed as his fingers lifted her feet and laid them in his lap. 

    “Some time soon we need to go somewhere nice and quiet and relax.” Her eyes which were closed opened and set their gaze on him. 

    “Work calls Roto…work calls.” A slight grin came to his lips. 

    “I suppose.” She smirked and closed her eyes again, pressing her head against the seat rest. 

    “How tempting that sounds though. To just run and go somewhere else.” His fingers gently pressed into her aching flesh, bringing a hum from her. 

    “Where would you like to go?”

    “I don’t know… anywhere but here.”

    “Have you ever been to London?”

    “No but I’ve always wanted to go.” 

    “I am thinking of opening an office there.” Her eyes opened. 



    “Why London?” 

    “I think it would promote the global vision Shoutoii is striving towards.” She smiled. 

    “I think that would be a good move. Perhaps one in Paris too.”

    “You took the thought right out of my mind.” Slowly, the ache in her feet was being soothed and she had grown more relaxed. 

    “I think you should go Cali. Once you have the major hubs here in the states, go abroad.” 


    “You’ve already established yourself as a successful leader of one of the top conglomerates in the world. Cali shouldn’t be a problem.” 

    “You’re the reason I’ve been so successful.” Heat blossomed on her cheeks and she pulled her foot back.

    “Hiroto stop. You were doing fine before me.” 

    “Behind every great man is his woman.” He replied, gently pulling her foot back towards him.  His eyes held her captive and she couldn’t look away as much as she wanted to. 

    I’ve definitely heard that…and t-to answer your question I’d like to go to France.”

    “City or countryside?” He asked, stroking the arch of her foot with his thumb. 



    “Noted? For what?” It was then that their ride had come to an end and he gently lifted her foot to his mouth. 

    “Time to go.” He let her free and she sat up. Sliding her feet back into her shoes, she smoothed her skirt. 

    “I guess so.” He opened the car door and stepped out, extending a hand. She grabbed her clutch and grasped his hand, allowing him to pull her from the inside. As they entered, everyone seemed to notice just how close they were, every touch under scrutiny. One woman couldn’t stop staring at the ring which sat so delicately on her finger. Ears peeled for any and every bit of information concerning him, his family… even the two of them. She was starting to think this whole engagement was a set up. 

    “…my father grew ill so I took control of the business in his place. I didn’t intend to develop a love for it but alas I did.”

    “You’ve accomplished so much. All of this at 29 years old? What a talented kid you are.” She thought it would subside but suddenly, she was the target for interrogation. 

    “What a beautiful ring! Are you getting married Ms. Marshall?” The question made her want to vomit. She would have been better off staying with the kids at Ayako.      

    “Ah…well…” The woman who had asked had a thin plastic smile stretched across her face. The old bat was searching. 

    “I’m sorry dear?” She tightened her grip on Hiroto’s arm to steady herself. 

    “Yes.” She grit out, trying to remain calm. 

    “Whoever he is has wonderful taste. I recognize the craftsmanship of the ring.”


    “Very expensive. Custom made.” 


    “Whose the lucky bastard? Is he in attendance?” The light touch of his fingers against her back steadied her further. She cleared her throat. 

    “I don’t think it’s any of your business who or where he is.” The woman blinked, the smile turning sour.

    “I see. I didn’t mean to intrude.” She dismissed her with a turn of her head. 

    “If you would excuse us.” He led her away and only then could she let out a breath. 

    “Roto…I don’t like feeling like I have to put on a front around these rich uppity folks.” 

    “I apologize if you have felt you needed to.” 

    “I just want people out of our business. Every little thing we do is considered scandalous.” 

    “We’ve always been the center of attention when we’re together.”

    “It don’t make no type of sense.”

    “We’re an anomaly.” She sighed. 

    “I’m trying to fit into your world…but it’s hard. I don’t understand it.” He leaned in close, his lips a breath away from her ear. 

    “Stop trying to fit somewhere you were never designed to be placed. You’re meant to be somewhere better than here.” 


    “We’re creating our own world to exist in remember?” 

    “…yeah…” He smiled as he pulled away from her. 

    “Now, where’s that smile I love? If you aren’t with me, I can’t be my best.” She began to smile and sighed heavily. 

    “I’m here.”


    “I’m said I’m here.” Grinning, he intertwined their fingers and squeezed reassuringly. 

    “That’s my girl.” 


    Summer was approaching with the quickness and with that meant a nice break up ahead. Even the CEO needed a break and he was allotted a quite generous one. With his trusted group of replacements, he needn’t worry about a thing. However, with all that time off coming up, one day was approaching and she wanted to make it special. He was turning 30 so soon and she had been thinking of the perfect gift. 

    Already, he’d been going to see Kyouta more regularly and in such a short time, the counselors had noticed a significant difference in his attitude. Kyou had attached himself to Roto and the two of them were like peas in a pod. Surprising him with a visit from him was out. What then could she do? The man was rather simple and didn’t ask for much. 

    Not too long ago, she had been talking with Lee and tried bouncing ideas off of her. But, the woman was far too excited with the news of their engagement so she wasn’t much help. Smiling to herself, she bit her lip. Lee had been just as bad as Amee if not worse. But she couldn’t wait to see her. And now ensued the dilemma. What to do for her fiancé? She had to get somethin goin. Clutching her cup of tea, she bit her lips as the noise of a local cafe surrounded her.

    “Babe?” Turning, she found the man of subject approaching her. In a sweatshirt, sweatpants and tennis shoes, he shone with a thin layer of sweat. He’d just come from the gym. Wet slick hair was pulled up into a bun and his cheeks were rosy.


    “Funny I ran into you. I was just thinking about you.” He grinned handsomely, dimples flashing. 

    “What have you been up to?” 

    “I haven’t ran in a good while so I took a jog at the park nearby.” 

    “Ah. You look refreshed.” He nodded and pulled out his phone, setting it down on the table. 

    “Would you like something from the cafe?” 

    “Nah you gon head. I got tea.” 

    “Okay.” He went to get in line. A couple seconds later his phone began to buzz. At first, she left it alone not wanting to invade his privacy. But when she glanced over curiously and saw はな she froze. Glancing up, she spotted him standing in line to order. She swiped the answer button and answered. 


    “Hello?” A confused female voice replied. 

    “May I ask who is calling?” 

    “Ah… I’m sorry…I am Hana.” She felt her heart leap. 

     “Hana?” At the language change, Hana switched slowly. 

    “…Who is this?” 

    “It’s…It’s Rae.” 



    “Oh my God it’s been so very long… how…how are you?” Tears welled up in her eyes. 

    “I’m… I’m good now that I’m hearin your voice…” 

    “Oh my God Rae… It’s been over ten years…”

    “I know…”

    “I can’t tell you how many times I thought about you over the years. I was so mad at Hiro-chan for hurting you.”

    “He definitely had work to do fixing it.” Hana laughed. 

    “He’s kept me up to date with you.”

    “Has he?”

    “Mm. He told me he proposed to you.” She felt her face warm. 

    “Y-yeah. We just recently got engaged.” Hana giggled girlishly and it brought a smile to her face.     

    “Finally! I have been waiting for him to ask you to marry him. Finally, things are right.” 

    “Hana…how…how have you been?” Hana clucked her tongue. 

    “I’ve been just fine Rae-chan. Do you remember Hisae?”

    “Of course I do!” The two women shared a laugh.

    “She still talks about you. Even after all these years, she remembered and cherished your tenderness.” 

    “How old is she now?”

    “She’s 13! She’s not little anymore.”

    “Oh wow! I know she’s beautiful Hana. Just like you!” 

    “Oh stop it…” She glanced up to see Roto at the counter. She felt a pang of homesickness. 

    “Time sure does fly.”

    “We have more than enough opportunity to catch it.” 

    “You think so?”

    “I know so.” She pressed the phone closer to her ear. 

    “I’ve missed you so much Hana-chan. I wanna come see you.”

    “You’ll see us soon. I promise.”

    “O-okay. Um… really quick…you know Roto’s birthday is coming up…”


    “I don’t know what to do for it. You know he doesn’t want anything big or too expensive.”

    “What about a small gathering?”

    “I wouldn’t feel right knowing you couldn’t come…” The sound of a snap tickled her ear. 

    “That’s it! Arrange a video call with me and Hisae! Then, it’ll be like we are all there!” She smiled. 

    “I like that idea! Thank you.” 


    “I have to go now Hana…” 

    “Ah, please keep my number okay? We can’t go this long without talking again.”


    “Ja Mata…” 

    “Ja mata ne…” She hung up the phone and quickly put her number in before he turned around. He went to the condiment bar, buying her a little more time to place it back on the table.  He smiled as he came back to her. 

    “What’d you get?” She asked, smiling back at him. 


    “Ooh.” He wiggled his eyebrows and sat down close to her. Holding the cup in his hands, he began to blow on the hot tea.

    “Your phone rang while you were away.” 

    “I’ll answer it later.” She watched him intently as he turned to look out of the window. There, etched into his skin was the milky way and the small stars that lit a path to his heart beckoned to her… just as they had years ago. 

    “Days like this make me miss home.” He spoke quietly, his eyes following the crowds of people that passed by the window. 

    “I can imagine…” 

    “I want us to go home Rae. We’ve been here way too long. It feels as if our stay has worn out its welcome.” She gently slid her fingers across his. 

    “I want to go back too.” He turned to look at her. 

    “If I told you I was thinking of moving sooner than later, how would you feel about it?” 

    “I’m ready.”


    “Yeah. All I need to do is make some arrangements and we could go from there.” He lifted her hand to press it against his cheek. 

    “Would you be comfortable with a few months time?” 

    “Of course! It’d give us time to find places and finalize everything with the office here in New York.” 


    “I’m down with that.” 

    “Okay then it’s on.” She grinned. 

    “Like Donkey Kong.” He chuckled as he took a sip of tea.

    “Wanna grab a bite to eat after this?” Sure enough, her belly replied with a growl. He smirked. 

    “I think I got my answer.” She pouted cutely and rubbed her complaining stomach. 

    “Yeah…Belly been howling all mornin.” His eyes twinkled with glee. 

    “I have to feed her so she’ll be happy.” She laughed. 

    “You silly.” 

    “Let’s get goin.”

    “Cool.” She gathered her things and they left the cafe, in search of some good eating.



    “You see somethin you want?”



    “Mm.” She had been asking him what he wanted for his birthday and he couldn’t quite give her the answer she wanted. On their journey to find food, they had stopped by a small bakery and she had gone inside to browse. At his lack of answers, she pouted.

    “You don’t want a birthday cake?”


    “Then what do you want?”

    “Nothing.” She stood with her hand on her hip, lips pursed. 

    “There gotta be somethin Roto…” With his health and his woman, what else could be had? 

    “I suppose I need a haircut.” She blinked, dumbfounded. 

    “You want a haircut for your thirtieth birthday?”

    “Yes. I want you to cut my hair.” She pointed at herself. 


    “Mmhm.” She licked her lips. 

    “That’s all you want?” 


    “Okay…I’ll give you a haircut.” 

    “Okay.” She shook her head and laughed to herself as they drew away from the bakery. 

    “You are somethin Hiroto.” He grinned. 

    “I know.” She punched him in the arm as they continued on. 

    “Shut up…don’t get cocky.” 

    “I believe it’s called confidence.”

    “Nah that’s straight arrogance.” He playfully stuck out his tongue at her and she bubbled with more laughter. The late spring air rose to meet them and she inhaled deeply.

    “You remember the party we had for you back in high school?” He smiled. 

    “I’ll never forget it.” 

    “You were so happy that night.” Fingers fidgeted with the small chain that was still worn around his neck. 

    “Yeah…I was.”

    “I wanna do somethin that’ll make you that happy again.” He chuckled. 

    “I’m already happy. What more could I ask for?” She sighed. 

    “I don’t know.”

    “Time with you will be more than enough.” 



    Firecrackers popped in the background and a necklace initialed with young love pressed against his skin.

    “Happy birthday.” Lips, soft and supple, traced a path down the bridge of his nose. Laughter sounded in the distance and it filled his heart with such warm joy. He couldn’t see anything but brown skin and a halo of hair which hid them so perfectly from the rest of the world.

    “Are you happy?”

    “Words can’t explain the way I feel.” The crunch of cracker, marshmallow and melted chocolate would forever mean summer. Just as the waves rushed forward to lap the sand, the eagerness in his fingertips was quelled inside jean pockets. And soon, the taste and force of her hit him as lips met.  That day had been the best day of his life. A day he would always remember. 


    This day he too would always remember. Sitting across from Rae’s adoptive’s parents on the eve of his birthday.  She had just let them know of their engagement. But, the reverberating silence that came could have stopped time.

    “What did you say?” 

    “I said we’re engaged.” 

    “I won’t support this. I can’t support this.” The voice of Shaundra was ridden with angry tears.

    “No one asked you to.” Rae replied, looking her dead in the eye. 

    “Hasn’t this man tortured you enough?” 

    “You tortured me more than he ever did.” Rae spoke strongly, her fingers intertwined with his. 

    “Did he get you pregnant? Is this why you’re doing this?”

    “Don’t you dare insult me or him!” 

    “It wouldn’t be first time you got pregnant. You two always struck me as being eager little rabbits.” He felt anger spark inside him. 

    “I can imagine that the news of us getting married is less than desirable. But, to imply that Rae and I have no more self control than rabbits wanting to mate is incredibly degrading.” He interjected, voice calm and clear. 

    “I knew she was a fast little heifer. She couldn’t help it.” The grip on his fingers by now was numbing but he just looked at her, the woman Rae had once called mother. 

    “The hatred you possess astounds me. Even now, you have a chance to repair a relationship between you and your daughter but instead you are hurling insults. I do not care much about your words but one thing is obvious: you’ve assumed quite a lot about us.” That quieted her. 

    “It cannot be helped that you came to your own conclusions about Rae and I. Ten years can make anyone assume a lot. Please excuse my language but you don’t know a gotdamn thing about me or about us.” Both of her parents grew still. 

    “What existed between her thighs was never my interest. Rather, my curiosity laid with what dwelled in her mind. For you to insinuate that we were uncontrollable lust driven children shows that you have quite the imagination. And now, having heard you talk for so long I think I understand just why you’ve always had a problem with me.”

    “Do tell me what that is.” Shaundra snarled, her lips pinched.

    “Your problem is that I am a Japanese man, quite unlike your ideal mate for your daughter.” That took the breath clear out of Shaundra’s lungs and she turned stiffly to look at her husband who had grown red in the face. 

    “The very thought of a non-black male touching your daughter disgusted you and you tried everything to ensure that it didn’t happen after she came back to New York.” 

    “That’s…not true.” 

    “Don’t lie. You know he tellin the truth.” Rae shot back hotly. The color was starting to drain from Shaundra’s face. 

    “It is apparent that you two know nothing about love. You might have married Kendrick for his money or for his career. But, Rae and I are different.” He felt her fingers squeeze his again.

    “All in all, it doesn’t matter. Regardless, Hiroto and I are going to get married and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.”  Before either one of them could respond, they heard another male voice speak.

    “Y’all finally tyin the knot huh?” They all looked up to find Tre standing in the entryway to the kitchen. Rae smiled at him.

    “Yep.” Tre was quiet for a long while before,

    “Let me holla at you for a minute Hiroto.” 

    “Sure thing.” Getting up, he pressed her hand into her lap and gently teased a loose coil that slipped from her ponytail.

    “I’ll be back okay?”

    “Kay…” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her lips. He heard the sharp inhale of breath from her mother but the sigh against his mouth sounded much sweeter. He tightened his grip on her hand before he pulled away from her. Sliding his hands into his pockets, he went out onto the back patio with her brother.




     It was a long while before either one of them spoke. The orange glow from a cigarette lit the night on fire. 

    “I overheard y’alls conversation.” 

    “I knew you would.” 

    “Mad respect for how you handled that.” 


    “When did you propose?” Tre asked, voice gruff. 

    “Her birthday. I gave her an engagement ring a few days ago.” He could feel Tre’s eyes on him. 

    “Let me ask you this…Man to man. Why not give up??” He smiled, only briefly but Tre caught it. 

    “Rae’s the kind of woman that only comes once in a blue moon. I’d have been a fool to let her go.”

    “I see.”

    “When you’re in love…you chase her to the ends of the earth. You do anything to make her yours.”

    “What made you fall in love with her?”

    “Her eyes. They mesmerized me.”

    “That’s all?” 

    “The richness of her skin.” Tre exhaled the smoke from his lungs. 

    “Most niggas say it was the ass or somethin.” 

    “And that is their fault right there. A woman is more than just ass.”

    “Real talk.” It grew quiet again. 

    “Mind if I get a smoke?” 

    “Nah.” Tre handed him a cigarette and lit him up. Inhaling deeply, he watched as the smoke vanished in the night air. 

    “My parents are under the assumption that you two fucked. Did you?” 

    “No. She wasn’t that type of girl.” 

    “How you’d deal with that?”

    “I had my ways of releasing that tension.”

    “Other chicks?” 

    “Possibly.” Tre chuckled. 

    “I know how the game go Hiroto.” 

    “I always found myself stepping on egg shells around her.” 


    “I respected her way before I wanted her. When desire hit, I didn’t know how to handle it.  She was more than just five minutes, you get me?” 

    “I got you man. You didn’t want to fuck up what y’all had going.”

    “She was beautiful as hell Tre. Mind, body and spirit.”


    “Let me be clear though…your sister isn’t someone you fuck. With a woman like that, you make love.” Tre watched him intensely as he brought the cigarette to his lips.     

    “I’ma be real with you Hiroto. The way my sister was when she came back from Japan made me want to find you.”

    “I’m sure.” 

    “All she did was cry and lock herself in her room. All she wanted was you.” He swallowed and took another drag. 

    “The girl wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t do anything. When I would ask her what was wrong… all she would do was say that you hurt her. I swore should I see you I would fuck you up for what you did.” He exhaled slowly. 

    “I definitely deserved it.” 

    “Hm.” Silence seemed to be consistent and it wore far longer this time. 

    “Look, I don’t care to know about your past. We both have done shit we ain’t proud of. But, I’m glad you respected my sister enough to keep your dick in your pants. Around her anyway.” 


    “I can’t lie I see the way you look at her. I noticed that shit back at the family barbecue.  You were the first guy I noticed that looked at her like that. I could tell you wasn’t just with her for the pussy.” 

    “She’s much to me than that.” 

    “Yeah I can tell. Rae’s never been this happy…There is somethin about you that stands out above all the rest. She loves you Hiroto.” 

    “I love her too.” Tre sighed. 

    “Somethin tells me you don’t say that often.”

    “Not unless it’s real.” He nodded. 

    “Rae’s the same way. When she loves, she loves hard. It’s hard gettin her to stop.” He smiled to himself.  

    “Well…as far as I’m concerned, you good with me now.”


    “If my sister been takin up for you for damn near fifteen years then somethin gotta give man. I remember the way you were when them bastards took her while back…. You were a man on a mission and nothing could stop you from getting to her.”

    “If I had gotten my way they would have disappeared. But, for Rae’s sake and only for her sake are they still living.” Tre observed him as he took the second to the last drag of his cigarette.

    “I feel that breh.” He leaned his head back against the house. 

    “Rae told me you also saved her from some punk ass bitch in high school.” He blinked and turned towards him, smoke escaping from the side of his mouth. 

    “She told you about Uota?” 

    “Yeah. Tole me all about how that muhfucka tried to rape her in the storage closet.” He flicking the cigarette butt, his jaw tight. 

    “To this day it still pisses me off.”  

    “I am glad you got to her when you did. You got there in the nick of time.” 

    “He stayed far away from her after that. In fact, I never saw him again. His parents must have taken him out of the school.”

    “That was what was good for him.” 


    “Well, guess we good then. I ain’t gotta worry bout nothin happenin to Rae. You solid Hiroto. You’ll take damn good care of her.” 

    “You know I will.”

    “I just want my sister to be happy so whatever y’all doin, I’m behind y’all.” He turned and bowed in front of him, low and deep. 

    “Thank you Tre.” 

    “Come on man you ain’t do that. It’s all good.” 

    “It’s my way of showing respect. It wouldn’t be proper unless I did so.” He said with a smirk as he lifted up. 

    “My man…all right then.” Tre clasped hands with him and pat him on the back. 

    “Let’s gon back in here and get some food. Ion know about you but I’m starved.” He chuckled. 

    “I hear you man.” Tre clapped him on the back again before they turned and re-entered the house. 


    “Everything good?” She asked, a worried look on her face. 

    “Yeah. We good.” Tre said, voice light hearted. She blinked and turned her gaze on Hiroto. He looked just as relaxed. 

    “Roto?” He smiled and gently pulled her against him. 

    “Everything is okay sweetheart.” She sighed and laid her hands against his chest. 


    “What you think I was gon do beat his ass?” She sucked her teeth and glared at Tre. 

    “Boy I ain’t know what you was gon do.” 

    “Tremaine you support this?”

    “Ma, let the shit go for real. You bout to lose more than just a daughter. Stay cool.” A head peeked around the corner. 


    “YES IT IS.” Amee darted suddenly from around the corner and hugged her. 

     “Let me see it!” She giggled girlishly and outstretched her hand.

    “It’s absolutely gorgeous! Oh my God…” She felt her entire face flush with heat and glanced up at Roto who winked at her. 

    “I think it’s time you leave.” The squealing stopped.

    “You puttin her out Ma? Really?” 

    “It’s cool. Me and Roto was leavin anyway.” 

    “Ma, don’t act this way. You can’t even be happy for your own daughter?” 

    “That there is no daughter of mine. As far as I know, she is as good as a stranger to me. And she’s no longer welcome here.” 

    “You can’t be serious.” Amee and Tre watched in disbelief as they went to get their coats.

    “Ready babe?” He slipped his fingers through hers. 


    “I see y’all.”

    “O-Okay then Rae…I call you.”

    “Bye Tre.”

    “Bye Nug. Catch you later Hiroto.”

    “Alright man.” 

    “Aiight.”  The door closed behind them.

    “That was fun.”

    “Actually, I think it went rather well.”

    “Oh yeah, being kicked out of your parents house and practically disowned… that went great.” 

    “I’m not surprised. They have no class or character.” She slowed his gait.

    “How do you really feel about it?” He sighed. 

    “I feel relieved.” 


    “Happy I finally got to talk with your brother.”

    “Me too.” 

    “He’s a good guy.”

    “Yeah Tre rough round them edges but he mean well.” 

    “He’s very protective of you. A man better not get caught looking at you wrong that’s for sure.” She smiled. 

    “Yeah my brother always had my back. Before I came to Japan, no one ever messed with me. He went everywhere with me, him and a few more brothers of mine.” 


    “Y’all talked about our engagement?” He nodded. 

    “Mmhm. He didn’t waste any time asking questions.” 

    “Oh yeah I know.” 

    “By the look on your face you were worried.” He commented, grinning down at her. 

    “Look, the last time he saw you he wanted to fight you. I had to make sure he wasn’t gon pop off.” 

    “I can handle Tre. I don’t scare easy babe.” She pursed her lips. 

    “Still.” As they finally made it to the car, she gripped his shirt at the waist. 

    “I’m glad things went well with you and Tre.”

    “I am too. I’ve come to understand him a bit more.” She reached up and traced his jaw with a fingertip.  

    “So the question I’m going to ask you next might seem silly…”

    “Ask anyway.” 

    “Considering the night we had tonight…do you wanna stay over?” His hands finally acquiesced having denied themselves, slowly dancing along her back. 

    “Would that be a good idea considering the topic of discussion tonight?” She pouted. 

    “What do you think?” He leaned down. 

    “Frankly, I don’t care but based on where my hands are headed I’d say no.” She bit her lip in a smile. Alas, his hands had grown bold and slowly but surely inched their way further and further down her body. 

    “I think I recall giving those hands permission to go that way though.” 

    “Ah, yes you did. But…” Finally, they had reached their destination and he lifted her up, fingers tight against her cheeks. 

    “Other places want permission too.” She wrapped her legs and arms around him and he came to gently sit her on the hood of his car. 

    “Is that so? Well, should I allow it or not?” 

    “That is indeed the question.” She slid his hair back from his forehead. 

    “It’d be a pity not to.” He smirked cheekily, his eyes meeting hers. 

    “I don’t want to be greedy and take more than I should.” His voice grew to a low whisper against her lips, 

    “Wouldn’t be fair or nice.” He continued as her eyes fluttered closed. 

    “Roto…” He pressed a kiss to her neck. 

    “Besides, it’s not my birthday quite yet.” Her eyes opened and she felt the heat from within his gaze melt her insides. 

    “You just said you wanted a haircut. Nothin else.” 

    “I’m subject to changing my mind.” 

    “Nope, can’t do that.” 

    “Why can’t I?”

    “Cause.” She teased, a smirk on her face. 

    “You’re being mean.” 

    “And you’re not behavin.” 

    “I was till you mentioned staying over.” 

    “Well…” He chuckled and snuggled against her. His arms enclosed around her, the warmth from his body pulsing into her. She sighed deeply and slid her hands down to the small of his back.  

    “Maybe another time then…” His voice soft and whispery sent chills down her spine. 

    “Right now I should get you home.” 

    “Mmkay.” He lifted her into his arms and she wrapped her limbs around him, not quite ready to be put down. 

    “I love you.” 

    “I love you too.” She slid down until her feet touched the ground and he took his hands off of her. Getting in the car, she put on her seat belt as he got in and started the ignition. As they got on the freeway, she let down her window to welcome the cooler night air.  Closing her eyes, she inhaled deeply. Jesus, we’ve done good thus far. Please let us make it to the altar.


    Strands of hair fell onto the floor. The atmosphere smelled faintly of roses and lavender and it calmed him. Glancing up, he smiled. Rae was focused as she snipped, gently twisting the scissors as she cut. Sighing, he closed his eyes and wrapped his hands around her hips. He had turned around to face her and pressed his cheek against her side. Today, he was 30 years old and truthfully, it felt right. He didn’t feel out of place as he went into work in the morning and he had received so many well wishes. He realized how blessed he was to make it to 30 and silently thanked God for letting him live another year. Fingers brushed the hair on his neck.

    “Almost done.”

    “Mm.” After work, Rae had called him and invited him over for dinner. After getting comfortable, he had come straight away only to find her standing in the door way with a pair of scissors. A few more moments passed and she lifted his chin. 

    “I ain’t a professional but I think it turned out good. Go see how you like it. ” He grinned and hastily got up to rush into the bathroom. Running fingers through the short bangs which framed his face he felt his heart swell. 

    “It looks great. Thanks babe.”  

    “Yeah yeah. I tried.”

    “You did good.” He leaned down to kiss her. 

    “Thank you.” 

    “You’re welcome.” She whispered against his mouth.

    “I’m gon get this hair cleaned up and then I got somethin else planned for you.” 

    “Let me get that. You sit tight.” He gathered the collection of hair on the floor into a pile and swept it up. Once finished, he turned to find her leaning against the archway.  

    “So I know you ain’t want a cake but I bought you one anyway.” She said as she came into the kitchen. 


    “And one last thing…” She reached over and grabbed a small remote. She pressed a button and suddenly familair faces appeared on the screen in front of him. 

    “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” He grew still, shock vibrating through his body. Hana. Hisae. Tobu and Minako. All of them grinned and waved. He turned to look at Rae, mouth slightly ajar. 

    “Happy birthday baby.” 

    “UNCLE HIROOOO RAE DID THIS FOR YOU SO DON’T BE MAD!” Hisae yelled, laughter in her voice. His eyes started to well up with tears and he tightened his jaw. 

    “I’m not mad. H-how are you Saehime?” 

    “Good. I miss you.”

    “I miss you too sweetheart. I miss you all very much.” 

    “Hiro, look up.” His chin trembled but he brought his gaze upwards. 

    “You’re getting old now!” Hana teased, sticking out her tongue at him. He laughed, the sound deep and hearty. 

    “Hey! That’s not nice!” 

    “Welcome to the club Hiroto-kun.” Minako said gently, smiles making her eyes crinkle in the corners. 

    “Thank you…Mina-sama.” 

    “I wanna see you cut the cake!” Tobu chimed in, a big grin the size of Mars on his face. 

    “Me too!” 

    “Come on, sit down.” Rae said tenderly, reaching for his hand. He let her pull him to the chair. Sitting down, he sniffed. 3-0 were set on fire and the voices of those he cherished most began to sing, some in English and others in Japanese. 

    “Blow out your candles…” Hands gently came around his neck and she leaned down with a smile on her face. He took a big breath and blew the fire out. 

    “Yay!” He swallowed tightly and turned his head as his lips met hers. The warm reception from everyone made him high but the lips of the woman above him electrified him. 


    “Shh…” She hushed him before smiling against his mouth. 

    “You deserved somethin special so here it is.” Pulling back, she sat down beside him. To his delight, Minako cut into a small cake and soon everyone had a piece. 

    “Ready? On three! San! Ni! Ichi!” Forks delved into the sweet treat. He sighed contently, eyes filled with delight as icing found its way onto Hisae’s nose. 

    “Saehime, you were waiting for this part weren’t you?” 

    “Yes! I wished you would hurry up!” He laughed to himself and glanced at Rae. She mirrored the joy he felt, eyes full of merriment. 

    “How is it?”


    “I’m glad. Are you enjoying yourself?”

    “Very much so.” 

    “Good.” He ate to his heart’s content, drunk with the love of his woman and family. It had seemed as though his birthday had only gotten more sweeter with each passing moment. 

    “Rae-san…” Eyes turned up at the screen. 

    “I haven’t seen you since I was little girl.” Rae smiled. 

    “I know! You’ve grown up so much!”

    “Mama told me you and Uncle Hiro get married.” She blushed and nodded. 

    “Yep it’s true!” 

    “Good! I miss you a lot! I want you to come back here and live with us!” 

    “I’ll be there sooner than you know it sweetie!” 


    “We’d better let you two get some sleep! I know it’s late there.” Hana spoke up with a smile. 

    “You don’t have to go.” He replied, putting his fork down.

    “No really. You two have been up working. Rae worked really hard to put this together. She needs rest too.” 


    “We’ll see each other Hiro-chan. Really soon ne?” 


    “Go ahead and get some rest Hiro-kun. I’ll call you soon ne?”


    “Good night you two.”

    “Good night Mina-sama.” 

    “Night Mina.” The screen went black and for a moment, they sat in silence. Then she got up and began clearing the table. Wrapping up the cake, she put it into the fridge. As she was scrubbing the plates in the sink, he came behind her and slid his arms around her. 

    “I don’t know how to put what I feel into words.” He spoke quietly against her shoulder.

    “That’s okay. You don’t have to.”

    “Then I won’t try…I’ll let this be enough.” Before she could reply, he leaned down and kissed her. She grew still as he hugged her closer to him. The plate hit the bottom of the sink with a clink and she lifted her hand out of the water. Cradling it against his cheek, she sighed deeply against his mouth. Her wet fingers drifted into his hair, the bubbly soap sliding down her wrist. 

    “Roto…” He brushed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb in silence, inhaling her breath. 

    “Tonight I’m staying.” He spoke lowly, lifting his gaze onto hers. Red shimmered in her cheeks. 


    “You’ve done enough…let me do this.” She smiled softly and bit her lip.

    “Okay…” She kissed him once more before stepping out of the way. He finished the dishes and cleaned the kitchen table. Disconnecting the screen output from her phone, he put it into his sweatpants pocket and turned off the living room lights. 

    After making sure the doors were secure, he came into her bedroom to find her curled up underneath her covers. Smiling to himself, he laid next to her, slowly pulling the covers up around him. Tangling fingers and limbs, he inhaled against her neck. 

    “How do it feel bein 30?” She asked tiredly, turning to look at him. He pressed kisses to her cheek and jaw. 

    “Feels good.” 


    “It was a great day thanks to you.” She smiled and closed her eyes. 

    “Now we can sleep.” He gently pecked her eyelids.

    “Sleep tight my darling.” 



    Just as the buds on the trees, life required a season of patience. If the flowers bloomed too quickly they would die. If they bloomed too late, they suffered. But, if they waited their turn…. they experienced beautiful inflorescence. Every function of the plant worked in complete harmony and the beauty therefore was worth it. 



    “Tobu…I have something to tell you.” 

    “What’s up?” 

    “I proposed to Rae.” For a moment, he was quiet but when he spoke, tears were in his voice.

    “You finally did it.”


    “When’d you do it?”

    “Her birthday.” 

    “Man, this is crazy. You finally stepped up to the plate and got your girl.” He blushed. 

    “I’m so proud of you Hiro-kun.”


    “Mr. And Mrs. Iwase. That sounds good don’t it?” His blush deepened. 


    “Now, only happiness awaits you two and I’m blessed I get to witness it.”

Chapter End Notes:

A/N: Hey Everyone! I missed y'alll! I've been so busy with life that I hadn't gotten a chance to sit down and write! I recently moved from Ohio to Arizona (BIG MOVEEEE) with some family and I've been trying to adjust to that on top of finding a job so things have been busy. This was a very active chapter! I kid y'all not I did not intend on this being almost 40 pages (in document form) lol. I honestly thought about splitting it up but somehow, (in my opinion) it all goes well together. I've introduced a small character by the name of Kyouta. Honestly, I am considering having Roto mentor young boys who have been through the same thing he went through but for now, he will be the first positive male figure in Kyou's life! :) I think that is awesome! Did y'all catch the questioning about locations?? *grin ehehe* I noticed that another thing I think is intimate is hair so I wanted to incorporate touch and hair between these two! Roto did Rae's and now Rae don did Roto's and I think the simple touch of your love's fingers in your hair is darn near spiritual. lol. Can't let everybody touch it!


 I must say my favorite parts of this chapter are the conversation he had with Tre, Rae's conversation with Hana-chan and the party Rae threw for Roto at the end. I think the part about Rae trying to "fit" in with Roto's "world" bit was so significant! No matter what, they ARE an anomaly as Roto put it. Not just because of their physical and economic differences but because of their love. Their love is something that most cannot understand but are intrigued by. Despite the playful and sometimes not so playful banter between them, their love is so very reminiscent of God's love for us all and I think THAT is what is so beautiful. Truly reflective of the Father! <3


The next chapter is a transitional piece and then guys... the moment we all have been waiting for... Marshall shall change to Iwase and from there a new journey shall begin! *SCREAMS* I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS FOREVER LOL. I'm excited that I've finally reached this point but at the same time... kinda sad cause it's like... it's kinda getting closer and closer to the end. I don't wanna think about it and won't talk about it again lol. *sentimental author over here lol* Please as always leave your thoughts, comments, concerns and criticisms and I will see you soon! I love you all! I hope that you had a blessed Christmas and may God bless you all in the new year! 

Sunray into the sky, bright and yellow

Be changed by the renewing of your mind!

God bless as always,

D&L <3 



Rae's outfit: 

Rae's Hairstyle:



And last but not least: 




Enter the security code shown below:
Note: You may submit either a rating or a review or both.

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.