Three hours later.
Seiji Shimizu's grave. Akita.
When Tohru arrived near the top of the mountain where the grave of her father lies, she instantly sat on the ground in exhaustion. "Maji de… How can Ojiichan decide on father's grave spot this way? It's not a pot of gold or something!"
I never knew there would come a time when I would feel more refreshed coming here.
"Konnichi wa, Otousan." She said with a gentle smile while looking at the old man's picture by the grave.
For a few minutes, she knelt down and prayed. After bowing, she began the work.
"It must be pretty lonely here, right? Ojii-chan said he chose this place to bury you because this is where he and grandmother first met. Pretty weird, neh?" Her gentle voice almost echoed in the absence of any other noise.
Then she took his picture and wiped it with a piece of cloth.
" Looks like I have finally grown up just like you wished. I can meet you with a clean face now." She said smilingly.
For a few minutes, she silently proceeded on cleaning the grave. She trimmed the grass and pulled the weeds, and sprinkled little wild flowers over the mound.
"I know you have been watching over me. I guess… I probably have disappointed you, neh?" She stopped what she was doing for a moment as the momentary happiness in her eyes slowly vanished.
"I never became a world-class chef like I promised to you before. I did not turn out to be a wonderful woman like okaasan. In fact, I deceived a lot of people. Now, I think I'll hurt a lot more people in the future. Surely, I've turned into such a disgusting person. I'm sorry." She said in a shaking voice while faking a smile. The tears fell without her knowledge and although she was aware that she was alone in that mountain, she hastily wiped them off as if in embarrassment.
"Sorry to give you this kind of yearly report, Otousan. Demo, just by having you listen to me had always been the most comforting thing… even when I was little… Otousan…" She finally broke into sobbing.
"Demo ne I know you know about this already, but I've met some people who changed my life entirely. Touya-san, Junko-san, Umi-san, Rin-san, Uruha… Even though I had to deceive most of them, I am happy that I were able to protect my lover's dream and his family. It started out badly, demo, it's as if you sent them to me to give me happiness. More than anything, I do not regret losing everything to be able to meet Uruha, and be with everybody. Only that right now… It'sironic, but I feel more guilty the happier I get when I am with them. Moreover, it's like… It's like I'm a piece from a different puzzle… No matter what I do or how I seem to fit, I'm still not supposed to be here."
She lit up the scented candles she erected in the mound.
"I know I am fortunate enough that despite all the lies, I found something real. My feelings for Uruha will never change. Demo, it now looks like a love hidden in deception like ours will hurt when revealed. It will hurt him more, right? He's the only thing I have now. Surely, I do not want him to suffer. Actually, the important question I had been avoiding for the longest time now is… Should I let him go?"
At this, tears fell from Tohru's eyes. She couldn't even sob or wipe them. She continued.
"He might hate me. Demo… It's the only way, isn't it?"
"Yes, and no." A cold low voice of a man responded to her sad monologue.
"Are-" She almost fell to a sit in shock. Then she turned to face the origin of the sound, and found a stranger with an eerily familiar aura. "Dare… desu ka?"
"Ore wa… Takahisa Kouyou desu. I'm your father-in-law."
"You're Tohru-san, right? My wayward son's fake lover." He said almost disinterestedly while trying to light a cigarette.
Wayward? F-fake lover? "Ha-hajimemashite, father-in-law!" She bowed deeply in response.
"There's no need to be so formal. I'm the one intruding your father's personal space, anyway." He said in a snob manner, almost identical to that of Uruha's. Then he brought his leather cigarette case out. "You smoke?"
"I-ie…" She said in a shy manner, still unsure of what to do or what to say. "Sumimasen…"
"I see. This must be the image set for you to take on, huh? You can act freely in front of me, though. As you might have guessed, I know about this whole scheme already."
"There's no need to explain anything. I know all about you and even heard much from your speech earlier. I see you're finally feeling guilty. You did, without a doubt, fooled everybody, drove my family's company to such a dangerous state, and almost ruined my son's career."
"Moreover, you violated the terms of your contract to the extreme. There should be no love involved; yet, Uruha has been to the point of sacrificing his precious useless hobby just to marry you. Even the cold-hearted twin almost died to protect you. Now it's almost impossible to prevent the damage you're about to bring upon the Takahisa family's future." He paused to smoke a bit, and looked at her from head to toe after a puff. "Such a massive genetic damage…" He said in English.
"But you still have time."
"See, my sons and my father have all accepted you. Dakedo… Right now, there is zero possibility of you satisfying my standards. I am not trying to say that my younger rebel son is too good for you. Don't feel too lucky. That boy was never good enough and there's a lot more he could have inherited from me. Demo ne, you lack class, education, wealth… Not to mention your dull looks. There is absolutely no means for you to be able to enter my family peacefully as you are right now. I will not let it."
This extreme Oresama attitude... I know something like this happened to me before. This feels just like a déjà vu…
"Ie." She whispered to herself as the other person paused to smoke again. Then it clicked in her mind.
It's Uruha. He's exactly like Uruha. Th-they couldn't be anything else but father and son!
"Moreover, adding such a weak ugly duckling like you to the family registry will only give everyone a hard time in the future. Like a commoner married into the royal family, you will be blamed for every bad thing happening. That is almost like a rule. Seeing how far both brothers were willing to go for your sake, when you become a real Takahisa, all sorts of madness could transpire given Touya's unforgiving attitude and Uruha's temper. Also, many women in our lineage fell into depression, some went insane, others even committed suicide. There were also attempts to kidnap or kill family members. Surely, while many people dream of living our kind of life, it is not as magnificent as it looks. That could even be the reason why Uruha wanted out of the family." He paused to smoke. "That would not happen, though."
Suddenly, Tohru remembered what she learned from Touya earlier.
Could it be? This man… He must be worrying about Uruha, after all.
"In reality, being married into our family could be more of a curse than a blessing. If Uruha really loves you, having you carry that kind of burden will only bring him pain and maybe even leave him hating himself. That kid looks strong, but deep inside he is really fragile."
"Ano…" Tohru's eyes unconsciously blinked fast as she breathed in deeply to muster enough courage to talk further in the presence of The Father-in-Law from Hell. "If you're worried that things might turn out bad and hurt Uruha, even though I myself want to protect him that way… I can no longer do that. We're not in such a simple relationship for me to easily leave him without warning. Also, the things you said about being the wife of a Takahisa… "
The older man's blank stare turned into a sharp glare. "What about it?"
"I am not afraid at all. Given all that I have experienced before meeting him, I am sure I can endure anything. I can go through anything for his sake! If this time came without him falling in love with me, I would leave quietly and never show up in front of him again. Demo… The way things are right now is just too unexpectedly different. There's no way I can ever do that."
The stylish middle-aged man smiled a little to himself. Then he closed his eyes and blew a puff of smoke. "I know. You've infiltrated my son's mind too deeply that he would go as far as giving up music just to be with you. Nobody in the family could keep him away from his guitar before, but now you've got his full attention. Seriously, just what sort of spell did you use?"
S-spell? What is he trying to imply?
"Sugoi desu ne. Omae…" For the first time, Tohru saw Takahisa Kouyou smile. Tohru couldn't help but stare with eyes opened wide. "You performed a miracle nobody in the family could accomplish. That's an amazing feat for an anchovy-like woman like you."
"That guy… When he turned fifteen, he traded his family and future for music. From then on, he lived like an illegitimate family member. He even changed his name later on."
"Yeah. Did you not know, your husband's name is the same as mine. But he hated me. He forgot everything but he remembered hating me."
Honto ni… Everything Touya said, I cannot believe it really is real.
"So his real name is Kouyou…"
"Ie. His real name is Uruha now. He has really changed it. I was enraged of course when I found out about it, but when I learned that that was the name Marie wanted him to have in the first place, I had to let it."
"You see, my wife and I were told that we're possibly going to have twins of a boy and girl in her earlier months of pregnancy. Being the excited mother that she is, she decided on the babies name right then. In the end, both came out as boys, so since we had no time to think of another, we just gave one my name."
I cannot believe it. Uruha had been mistaken for a girl even before he was born!
Tohru almost gave out a chuckle.
"Sou desu ne." Tohru smiled, her eyes twinkling in happiness upon learning something so precious about her most beloved one. "So that's why it's Uruha… I've always wondered why he has such a beautiful name…"
Tohru remained smiling to herself for a few moments, attracting the attention of the older person. Seeing her brighten up in the presence of someone as intimidating as he is, just because of hearing something about her lover, somehow Kouyou felt a tinge of hesitation to go further as he planned. However, the rest have to be done.
"You just said you'd do anything for his sake, right?"
"Like I said, you still have time. I may not accept you now, but I can at least give you another chance. I heard your grandfather gave him a test before accepting him as his son-in-law. Are you willing to take my test and see if you and my son are fated after all?"
"Test?" He's giving me a chance! "Whatever it is, I can surely do it! Demo, -fated?"
"Hai. Like I said, you are lacking in almost all aspects, but somehow, my son fell in love with you. That couldn't be anything but luck. So then, you are not lacking in that quality. To be fair, that will be the one I'll test."
"A test of luck?"
"But not only that. That was your only strength, so you'll have to show me your other potentials, too. In the event that you pass my luck test, only in that event, mind you, you'll really be a Takahisa. Upon signing the papers, your life will be in extremes. When you'll surely be happy at times, you'll definitely experience the worst, too. If you fail to endure all that, you might just bring about another tragedy to the family and ruin Uruha, completely. That's why you need to power up."
"Yeah, like, transform into a dragon or something. You know, like those anime 'things'."
Tohru remained still for a few seconds, comprehending. A joke! He was trying to crack such a lame joke with a really straight face! I should… uhmm… Should I laugh?
"In that case, I'll be the one to train you."
Suddenly, Tohru was brought back from her never-ending musings. "Train... me?"
"Yes. The dragon is a huge, lucky creature in Chinese beliefs. You already have massive luck, given how you succeeded at seducing my son. Now you only need to get big. An anchovy has no place in a family of gods, after all."
I'm being called an anchovy again… And a family of gods? He's like a powered up oresama version of Uruha! Demo, if this is what it takes for us to be together, I'll succeed in doing it!
"Then… I'll do anything to be able to be big enough for Uruha. Please help me, fathe- no, master!"
"Sou ka? It will not be easy. You also risk losing him in the process. Well, that's if your luck is not enough."
"What do you mean, father-in-law?" In an instant, her vigor disappeared upon hearing that she might lose Uruha.
"Well, I have to make the test hard for everybody's good. If you cannot do it, then just say it now. This will be your only chance to gain my approval, though. If ever you really choose to get married without it, I'll have to cut Uruha from the Takahisa family for good. Also, he'll definitely lose his job at PnSC if he married. I'm sure you do not want him to lose just about everything just because of this single mistake of not taking the chance to become a legitimate Takahisa."
"Then… Then he will not need to lose music if I succeed?"
"Mochiron. I've recently been buying up stocks of PnSC. It was beyond my father's control though, even Touya have no idea, but only I have the power to let him keep his useless hobby. If you want everything to be fine, you just need to schmooze on me."
"But…how about the company? I've heard that Uruha's refusal of his marriage with Miyazaki-san is causing problems with the company."
"Is that the reason why you're thinking of letting him go in your monologue earlier?" He glanced at her in the corner of his eyes.
"Hai, demo, that was only one of the reasons. Actually, I think… Even if I do pass the test, I'd still be unfit for him and bring him bad luck. Demo, I cannot leave him either." Slowly, her eyes started getting red again.
"I see. You're suffering from poor self-esteem, too." He puffed. "But that Miyazaki-san… was a part of the test you have already passed because of your twin princes."
"Well, you cannot learn everything all at once. I'll leave you to discuss things with your father for now. Here's my calling card. Contact me when you've decided."
"You saw her with whom?"
The trembling roadie could hardly open his mouth upon experiencing the blond ikemen's furious interrogation. "Y-you were with her right? I'm sure I saw her with you that time."
"I was practicing that time so surely that was not me. Can't you give me any more details? Neh, Senga Kotaro-san?" Uruha's glare sharpened even more.
"W-well, although I am sure he looks rather like you, his hair is darker I think. And his face was rather… uhm, stony? I cannot describe it. He was probably angry."
Looks like me… Dark hair… Stony face? There's no doubt about it. That was Touya!
"Are? Your brother was the one who abducted Amaya-chan?" Kei came in with half a taiyaki in his mouth. "Oh my… Are you two in a love triangle? You know, like in the dorama we saw in t.v. earlier. Man, that's so cool!"
"Cool? Don't tell me your little devil twin likes Amaya-chan as well?" Umi exclaimed.
"As well?" The other people around asked in unison.
"Ah.. Uhm.. I mean…"
While the people gathered around Umi, Uruha grabbed his things and dashed out.
"Touya… You better have a good explanation for this."
So the scary dragon-trainer father of Uruha finally appeared to Tohru and offered her a chance to be officially accepted as a family member of the Takahisa family. Will this really solve the crisis that befell their love? OR will it only bring trouble and eventually separate them?
Also, it seems like Uruha is taking things wrongly while investigating the cause of his failed extravagant wedding proposal. What will he probably do in his rage to Touya, who just happened to be his and his wife's life saver?
You'll know in the next chapters! (Well, they may take a while again to be uploaded, but I'll do my best to update as soon as I possibly can without sacrificing the story's quality). So please just hold on!
Don't forget to drop some lovely cookies. X3