E P I L O G U E
As his chauffeur pulled into the driveway, the gates to the mansion opened. It stood majestically above a lovely lake view. The landscapers had worked furiously to furnish the estate with an immaculate garden complete with dusky roses that blossomed the size of one's fist.
He noted that many of the other guests had already arrived, from the long string of elite German and Japanese convertibles and sleek limousines.
He stepped up the stairs and lifted an elegant finger but the heavy mahoghany door swung open before he pressed down on the doorbell.
A stern looking man in his fifties stood at the doorway and cast a searching look at him. He seemed satisfied at the young man's appearance. Then he beckoned him inside with a brisk, " Come inside, sir. Most of the other guests have already arrived."
The young man slipped in with catlike grace and halted, searching for a certain face. As he found her next to the stairway, he maneuvered his way through the crowd towards her.
"Mameha-sama-" he started. The woman turned around and smiled warmly at him. Her peppered auburn hair was tied in a strict French knot at her neck. She was one of the people who could age beautifully- she might've not seemed a day over thirty but the thin lines that crinkled around her eyes belied the illusion.
"So, dear, you've finally decided to join us. Were you being accosted by one of your dedicated fans again?" She chortled kindly and patted him on the head. "But it's no surprise because you're quite a handsome thing, Riku."
The young man blushed faintly but her compliment was not unjustified. Because it was supposed to be a formal black-tie-cocktail event, he was in a fitted black pinstriped blazer and loose slacks. It emphasized his elegant lithe figure, His dark brown locks barely brushed past the collar of his shirt- he had gotten it cut for this occasion. With a glass of martini dangling from his hand, he was a picture of complete ease and flawless grace,
"Eh- but you didn't take all of your earrings out," Mameha noted disapprovingly. " Didn't I tell you that I was going to introduce you to someone today?"
"But I took them all out except for that one" Riku whined. As he lifted his hair to reveal the empty three holes in his right ear, he made his point. There was only a tiny modest silver star stud.
Mameha patted the young man's shoulder while snorting, "Musicians- all the like. Especially young talented ones these days...with all those horrendous piercings, bizarre makeup, and funny hair."
Riku smiled slightly before giving the older woman's hand a squeeze. "But you can't live without us, eh?"
"Pshaw. I run a record company! I have contracts with people other than rock sensations, you know." The woman raised an eyebrow and with one swift movement, snatched away the martini glass.
"Underage drinking is unacceptable- especially at my dinner party," she told him mock sternly.
"Mameha I'm only two months away from twenty one. It shouldn't matter too much," he cajoled to no avail.
A voice suddenly cut in from behind them- "Mother, there you are! Have you seen her? She was just in her room getting ready and when I looked again, she was gone!"
A handsome young man in a white suit and an exasperated expression greeted Riku hastily and turned his attention to Mameha.
"Mother?" Riku asked incredulously. "Mameha-sama, I never realized that you were married."
"Ohohohoho, and minutes ago you were flirting with me happily," the older woman chortled again jokingly before pinching the young man's cheek. "Yes, I suppose any fantasies of affairs with older women have died now, huh?"
"Mother!" The young man in the white suit barked sharply.
"I heard you, Akira," Mameha flapped her hand at him to shoo. "She'll be lurking around a corner or something. I know her too well. You know that she never likes events like these. Especially this one. Huh! You should have seen the fuss I had to put up with this morning. It's from studying abroad in the States, I tell you."
She paused and turned to Riku, "That's Akira, my son. He's a very successful fashion designer who just debuted a year ago in the States."
For a brief moment, Riku could've sworn that the man in white glowered at his mother. It was a look of pure disdain but then it disappeared as soon as it came.
Mameha turned her attention back to her son and pursed her lips, "But this is utterly ridiculous! I told her that I wanted her to meet a special guest. Grrr...where has that daughter of mine gone..."
Akira shot Riku a suspicious look.
"I'm Riku-" He started to introduce himself but Akira cut him off.
"I know who you are. You're the prettyboy rockstar that has his face on every single Pepsi can in Japan. I can't look at Pepsi the same way anymore because I have that chorus from your song stuck in my head every time. How does it go again? Turn it around, turn it around or something?" Akira asked with barely concealed disgust.
"Turn time around, turn time around, to the day we met under the clock tower, when the sky was crying," Riku sung softly.
"Yeah- that," Akira humphed before turning around and walking away. He added without another glance to his mother, "I'll be looking for her. Keep your eyes peeled for a blue dress."
Mameha sighed heavily before nudging Riku. "The old lady will leave you now. Obviously that daughter of mine is up to no good. I'll go and find her. I guess your meeting will be postponed until later.
X X X X X
She thought that if she was in America, she would be far away enough from him. But she was wrong. Time passed and he became well known. She heard that he went solo because two of the ALICE BLUE members wanted out of the music industry and there was dissent about the music they were making.
The first time she heard his voice again, it was on the radio.
Radiohost: Hello, everyone! Today we have a special guest...the pretty-faced singer with the voice of an angel...Riku!
Riku: Konnichiwa, everyone. I hope you're all having a good day...
She'd flipped to a country station after that brief interview. Her hands shook as she clenched and unclenched them in her lap. His voice...it brought back so many memories of what had been in the past...and what she had left belong.
Sometimes she wondered, Does he miss me? Did he ever like me enough to miss me? What was I to him? But all of the questions were left unanswered.
She returned to Tokyo after a couple of years. Her mother had demanded her to go with her. She had a series of important meetings and dinner parties and it was crucial that she, her daughter, should attend. She believed that it was to keep up her mother's reputation.
She hated those dinner parties. In every one, she had to plaster a fake but bright smile on her face and greet each guest warmly even though she would have rather strangled every one of them. Because weren't they all scheming business partners at the end? Afterwards, her mouth would always feel sore and she'd wondered how in the world she got dragged into it in the first place.
Today's was worse than ever. Her mother had been gushing about a charming young entertainer whom she wanted her to meet. But Arisu had enough of it. She didn't want to let herself to be subject to four hours of mindless banter with a pretty-faced but empty-headed pop idol.
So instead, she'd managed to make herself inconspicuous by lurking in the corners of the balcony. Technically, she was present at the dinner party. Her mother hadn't specified that she had to be at the center of the dinner party.
She smoothed the blue chiffon of her dress and took a deep breath. The evening air was cool but not chilly. It was perfect weather for a walk in the gardens or something of the sort. The little nook she managed to find was cozy and shielded her from too much exposure to the breeze. It was a good place to hide for the present being.
X X X X X
"Mrow!" a bundle of white fur scrambled away from Riku and made for the balcony.
"Damn cat," he muttered under his breath and quickened his pace to catch up to the feline that belonged to Mameha. "The things I do for my boss."
As he neared the balcony, he cursed again, louder. The cat was currently perched contentedly on the railing, swishing its tail back and forth. As if it sensed Riku's presence, it suddenly leapt to the branch of the tree nearby and lightly climbed away.
"Damn!" Riku cursed again. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
After he took a long inhale, he felt calmer. Glancing around the balcony, he realized that it overlooked a lovely pond view. The lake shone silver in the moon light. It was like one of those scenes from a lovey-dovey soap opera or something.
He was roused out of his thoughts by a rustling that came from the corner. Turning around slowly, he realized that there seemed to be something huddled behind the thick velvet curtains.
Perhaps it was the cat?
He approached it and halted just a foot away from it. The rustling stopped once it heard Riku's footsteps. What could it be? If it was the cat...damn...that thing was such a nuisance. For a moment, Riku was hesitant and his hand hovered over the cloth. What if it was a couple's rendezvous?
Then, he heard a very human sound from the curtains.
In one brisk movement, Riku pulled the curtains apart.
"Damn, you're polluting the air with that cancer stick!"
The voice was exasperated and clearly feminine. A dark head was bent over in a coughing fit. The person sat in a pool of blue silk. It emphasized the expanse of white skin and her trim figure. She looked so familiar but Riku couldn't believe it. No- he didn't want to believe it.
How many times had he mistaken someone else for her on the street? He didn't want to make the same stupid mistake again. And anyways, why did it matter? She was gone in America. She left him and made it clear that she wasn't coming back.
But as the girl raised her head and met his flustered gaze, Riku stepped back and cursed. Her dark brown eyes met his violet ones and a spectrum of emotions flashed through them. Surprise. Disbelief. Sorrow. Then- regret?
"Riku," she whispered softly.
And all of a sudden, Riku felt angry. A surge of adrenaline ran through his body and he whirled away from her, an expression of rage and disdain etched on his face.
The nerve of her! To disappear without a note and then three years later, suddenly appear in his life again. Her appearance shattered the stability and security of the shell that he'd erected around him. And of all places, why would they meet again here?
He wanted to block out her voice. He needed to get out. He was going to go crazy if she came back into his life.
"RIKU!" a cold slender hand clasped around his and Riku froze. He whirled around and glared fiercely at Arisu.
"What the hell do you want?" he snapped and pulled his arm from hers.
"Why are you like this?" she cowered slightly beneath his icy glare. "I'm sorry!"
Riku was shaking with rage. With each word from her mouth, he wanted more than ever to lunge at her and embrace her. It infuriated him that even though she was so close, he couldn't touch her. As the words of apology were uttered from her mouth, he finally snapped. He didn't want an apology. He wanted an explanation. He wanted to know if she had also been missing him the way he missed him. If she had felt that same anguish he felt after she left. The feeling of desolation and being abandoned...as if his heart had been carved out with a stone and cast aside.
"IS THAT ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?" He roared. "I'm sorry? I'm sorry? That's not going to erase the three years I've had to wait for you. Every day, wondering, where is she? How is she doing? What happened? What did I do wrong? I felt like every day was spent in purgatory and now you appear out of nowhere and you give me a damn apology and expect everything to be fine?"
Arisu pulled back from him as if slapped. Her face whitened and then she said in a steely voice, "Even now, you haven't changed."
"You! You're always thinking about yourself! How did you know that I wasn't also feeling like hell when I left you? Why did I leave? YOU certainly didn't get the matter. Do you know what the last words I heard from you before I left? 'get out...I don't want to see you here…I don't want you be in here...'. You were the one that pushed me away. Of course I wasn't going to leave over some hissy fit you threw. But my brother really needed me to go to America. He was going through a really tough time- did you even read the letter I left you? I explained everything to you!"
At this point, Riku was staring at her incredulously. "You could have told me face to face."
"What did you do to the letter?" Arisu raised her voice slightly.
"I burned it okay! How the hell did you expect me to finish reading past the first sentence? You left me and all you left was a stupid letter and a goddamn stuffed animal! What was I to think?"
"That's the thing! You never think!" she shrieked and punched him slightly. "All you think about is yourself."
"You-" Riku started to retort but was cut off by a refined and matronly voice.
"Ah I see that you two have met before." They turned to see Mameha. She leaned against the banister with an amused and lazy look in her eyes.
"Mother I-" Arisu began but Mameha waved her explanation aside.
"Fuwako-san, I'm afraid that I don't feel very well. I think I may have to depart early." With that cold comment, Riku brushed past Arisu and headed downstairs.
The girl bit her lip and clenched her fists in frustration.
"Well, aren't you going to escort him to the gates?" Her mother asked sternly.
"What? Mother- did you see the state he was in? That pigheaded guy is pissed off and wants to be left alone and you want me to-"
"It's courtesy!" Mameha said with a steely edge of finality that silenced her daughter once and for all. With a huff, the girl in the blue dress whirled around and started running after the 'pigheaded guy'. Mameha smiled to herself very slightly as she watched the figure of her daughter disappearing. She knew much more than Arisu would have given her credit for.
Downstairs, Riku stormed past the guests in black and white and threw open the main door. Not far behind him, he could hear the light clicking of Arisu's shoes. He decided to ignore her and quickened his pace. He felt like such a fool. For liking her so much and not being able to tell her. Even now, three years later...as soon as he saw her he knew that it was still there.
"DAMN YOU, STOP THERE!" Arisu shouted with such authority and urgency that Riku obeyed abruptly.
She ran towards him and grabbed his arm roughly. By now, her hair had fallen out of its styled bun and she had a frantic wild look in her dark brown eyes.
"Is this how you're going to say your farewell?" she asked quietly.
He avoided his eyes and stared dully at the ground. "Am I not allowed to say good bye? Do I have to be the one who is always left behind?"
"You!" she let go of his arm and turned her head away. When she spoke again, her voice was oddly muffled and bland. "If you want to say good bye so much, I guess there's no stopping you."
He didn't want her to say that. He wanted her to run to him and hug him and tell him that she was never going to leave him again. And it was all a mistake. They had both been stubborn idiots who didn't want to lose their pride. With every step he took towards the iron gates, he felt both his legs and heart get heavier.
The iron gates clanked open and he stepped out. As they slid close again, he heard her voice one more time.
"Did you ever like me?"
He wanted to turn around and scream, 'yes, yes! More than you ever knew.' But he said nothing. Even if he did, what would happen now? The two of them were so confused right now. Even if they could being anew, he needed some time to think about everything that had happened. They were both so different now and so many complications distorted their relationship that it was tangled beyond comprehension.
"Yes..." he whispered softly to himself before getting into his car.
He drove away quickly and never looked back. He knew that if he did, he wouldn't have the strength to drive away. If he had glanced back, he would've seen the lone figure of Arisu standing at the gates, crying silently.
X X X X X
A little bit of time passed. Was it a month since she'd seen him? Arisu wondered to herself as she got into her car. It had been a lot easier to pretend that he had also moved on with his life and she with hers. But when she saw him again, she knew that she had been wrong. All she wanted to do was throw her arms around him.
Those familiar violet eyes...
Silky brown hair...
She sighed to herself and turned the keys of her car. What hurt more was the fact that he never answered if he liked her.
She knew it had been too good to be true. Their relationship...had it always been one-sided? All she knew was that it was a love story that was too complicated to last. They could never return to what it had been. It would be more sensible to get on with her life.
Arisu turned on the radio and pulled out of her driveway.
Radiohost: Good afternoon! Today we have a special guest! This is the second time you've been on our show, right, Riku-san?
Arisu froze and braked abruptly.
Riku: soft laugh Yes, it is.
Radiohost: You're here today with one of your newest songs. It hasn't been released yet to the public before! Rumors say that it is called "Two Fools".
Riku: Yes, yes.
Radiohost: Could you sing a little bit of it?
Riku: Sure. clears throat I just finished it last week so it's not very polished yet but I hope you guys like it. I wrote it for someone very dear to me.
It's one of those days that makes me wonder,
Where are you? How are you doing?
In the streets, all the faces look like yours
But none of them are you.
I sat waiting for you, to wait for me
A love story that was hopeless.
I sat waiting for you to wait for me
If I had turned
I would have seen
A lone figure in the summer evening
Being the fools we were, we waited for each other
Until tomorrow and yesterday blurred into one
Radiohost: clapping That was very touching! Is that based on a personal experience?
Riku: hesitantly Yes. This song was written to someone who was very special to me.
Radiohost: Is this your girlfriend, Ami the supermodel? chuckles I heard that your fans were very angry to discover that you were going out with her.
Riku: No, we're just friends. We never went out. This song is actually dedicated to a girl I liked for a long time. It's one of those love stories that can never happen though. She never ever told me that she liked me back. But I couldn't help always liking her.
Radiohost: Wah! That is so tragic. What kind of girl would turn you down though? Wait- is that a phone call?
Caller: YOU IDIOT! I ALWAYS LIKED YOU! heuk heuk But you never told me that you liked me. I even asked you that last time...when we said farewell.
Riku: grabs the phone Arisu? Arisu? Is that you? What did you just say?
Arisu: I said that I liked you. Why are you so stupid that you could never tell? Oh my...this is really embarrassing. We're on public radio, aren't we? Aiish...
Riku: WAIT! Where are you? I'm coming...
Radiohost: Ahem, and signing off from the Tokyo Radio Tower
This is the story of the two fools who would never admit that they liked each other.
A modern lovestory that should not have existed did.
Ah, and that was epilogue. I'm sorry that it was kind of predictable. --;; I know, I planned to not end it on a happy note but I couldn't help it. Also, I felt that many of the readers felt so too. I mean, wouldn't it have been mean if I just had the two part ways forever?
Yes, to clear up confusion, Arisu left for America because of her brother. Mameha, Arisu's mother, is the CEO of the recording company that Riku is signed with.
A big shoutout to all the readers who've kept with this story for so long. Wow, I still can't believe that I started in April of 2004. That means that it took me 20 months to finish this. Hmmm...if you calculate it that way, then I would've written a chapter per month. I know that the last few chapters came out extremely slow but I'm so happy that you guys bore with me.
I wanted to integrate the phrase "Modern Alice" into the story but I couldn't. Now I wonder if I should've had titled it that or "Two Fools" instead. What do you guys think? Oh, and I'm really sorry that I never had a kissing scene throughout this whole story. It's kinda a shame. --;; Every time I wanted to insert one, it seemed kinda sudden and I was afraid that I'd go overboard with it. Ah well, next time!
I may start another story soon so keep tuned in, kay? However, it may come out really slowly because I have so much stuff going on.
Special Thanks to:
Paliana: wah, you were so faithful to this story! ToT I'm really touched. You like reviewed almost every single chapter. I always appreciated your humorous commentary and responses. Thanks!
Jamie aka: Thanks for all your awesome feedback. Hah! I was inspired to explore Aya's character because you supported him so much.
Waterblock: Thanks for pointing out little gliches and stuff. If I start another story sometime soon, you can totally be my beta reader. :D
MERRY CHRISTMAS (2005) EVERYONE!!
Consider this epilogue as an early Christmas present. Heh heh.