Chapter 16

As Hana played, Akito watched with tears in his eyes. The music was so nostalgic it had moved him. Kyoko shook him.

"Aki! What's wrong?! You're crying!" she cried.

Hana was startled by the sudden cry and stopped playing. She looked up at them. "You…"

"M-mistress! I-I'm sorry for scaring you. It's just that..."

Before Kyoko could finish, Hana stood up and looked at Akito. "Mr. Mori, why are you here?"

Wiping his tears, Akito said "Just walking around. You?"

"I'm walking around too. With Kyoko."

There was a moment of silence. "What's with them?!" Kyoko thought. "Akito say something! This is getting too awkward!"

Breaking the silence, she said " S-so….you two know each other?"

"Eh? Mr. Mori is my psychiatrist."

"Psychiatrist?! Aki, you never told me that!"

"You never asked!" he cried back.

"Um…. you two are too loud. It'll disturb the costumers." Hana said quietly.

Both Kyoko and Akito were embarrassed.

"Well…I have to go now. See you, Kyoko." Looking at Hana he said, "That piece you were playing. It was Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 in C-Sharp Major wasn't it?"

"Y-yes."

"You've played well. Take care."

"W-wait!"

Hana tugs Akito's sleeve, stopping him. ""S-sorry….about what happened back….in the square. I…was..thinking that-"

Before she could finish her sentence, Akito said,"It's alright. I forgive you. You can come to my office anytime. Just call me, okay?"

"Y-yes…"

"I'll be off than. Bye."

"G-goodbye…."

As he headed out, Akito tried to hold onto his feelings of the past. It pained him to think back on those horrifying events. "Akito, focus." he told himself. "Don't be so soft. Remember what your main objective is."

Back in the music store, Kyoko accompanied Hana as they marveled at the different instruments displayed. Thinking of what had happened, Kyoko blurted, "I-I'm sorry.." Hana looked at her in amazement. "What for?"

"I thought you and Aki were…" She hesitated. "Were…."

Hana blushed. "W-we're not that close."

"Aki and I were childhood friends. He's never really been that caring before. But it seems like he has a thing for you."

"T-that's not true." Hana stammered. "Theres…..no way someone like that. would like me…."

She lowered her head and stared at the shiny floor reflecting her face. Kyoko noticed what she had done. "I'm sorry mistress! It's my fault!"

As Kyoko shouted, the costumers turned their heads towards the two of them. Noticing that she had been loud, Kyoko apologizes. " I think we should leave" she says.

Stepping out of the shop, Kyoko was glad she didn't have to stay for long. She didn't want to cause a scene. "We didn't get a chance to buy the sheet music we wanted. I'm sorry."

"It's ok." said Hana. "I….can come back some other time."

"So where do you want to go, mistress?"

Hana thought for a while. There were many places to go to but she hadn't have the time to plan out where to go to. Thinking back on bumping into her psychiatrist in the music store, Hana remembered a certain place she had not been to for a while. "The…..square. I want to go to the square"

There were many people at the town square. It was very crowded and hard to walk around.

"Mistress, why do you want to go to the square?" Kyoko asked. But Hana was not there. "Mistress?" Kyoko searched around the square, carefully walking pass the crowds of people. "Mistress! Where are you?!"

Hana had walked into the small square she had been to before. "This was where I heard him play." she thought. It was very quiet and empty in the square. "It's quite peaceful." she said to herself. Hana sat on a bench and observed the area. The square had only has two small entrances that lead back to the bigger square. There were a few small trees and birds. In the center was a fountain. Hana marveled at the scenery. She was so awed by the beauty that she hadn't noticed a black kitten nuzzling on her feet. It gave out a loud purr.

"Hello there," Hana said. She picked up the kitten and placed it on her lap. "Are you lost?" The kitten had dark eyes and pitch black fur. It didn't have a collar. "A stray…" She petted it and the kitten purred. Who knows how long Hana had been playing with the kitten but she soon noticed the sky turning orange.

"The sun is about to set. I have to go soon." Hana thought. She placed the kitten back on the ground. It meowed softly and gave Hana a sad look. "I'm….sorry. I have to go."

As Hana walked towards the exit, the sound of the kitten's meowing echo in the empty square. Reaching the town square, Hana saw Kyoko walking around. The huge crowd has decreased into just a few people. Noticing Hana, Kyoko runs to her. "Mistress!" she cries. "Where have you been? I've been searching for you!"

"Sorry…." apologized Hana. "I…wandered off…without noticing…"

"It's getting late. Head Mistress will be upset if we don't get back on time. We should go home now."

"Okay…."

As the sky grew darker and the street lights lit, Hana and Kyoko rushed home. "Head Mistress will be very upset now! I hope we get home before she finds us!" said Kyoko. She was exhausted from running. Hana was behind her and as Kyoko slowed down, she ran ahead. She ran up to a flickering street light and stopped to catch her breath. Kyoko caught up and together stood to rest. "We're going to be late." she said.

"I'm sorry.." Hana said. "It's all my fault. I shouldn't have left."

"N-no! You're wrong! It's my fault" said Kyoko. "If only I kept an eye on you. Argh! I'm such a failure!"

"D-dont blame yourself! It's….my fault." She lowered her head in shame. "Mother will be mad."

"She'll probably yell at me for it. I'm used to her punishments. And don't worry." she assured. "It's really my fault in the first place."

"No it's not!"

"Yes it is!"

They argued for a while and soon a short silence came. They laughed. "What are we doing? Arguing at a time like this?" Kyoko laughed. "Hey, mistress."

"Y-yes?"

"You know….I think you've changed a bit."

"I….changed?"

"I've never seen you so sociable like this before. Although I've never spoken to you much, I've been told that you weren't used to interacting with others."

"I-I see…"

"Could it be….Aki?"

"M-Mr. Mori? N-no. T-that's n-not true." she stammered. "We don't talk much at all. He's just a psychiatrist hired to help me. We don't have such a close relationship. We're…not like that. B-believe me. I haven't changed at all."

"Hmm…I doubt it. You're talking a lot now aren't you?"

"E-eh?!"

"Not to mention, back in the shop you even apologized to him for something. Something about a square…"

"Y-you h-heard?"

"Could it be….that something happened between you two?"

"N-no! It's n-not what you think!"

"Heh, I understand." Kyoko said. "Sorry….for invading your privacy. It's just that I haven't seen him for so long. You see, the two of us, Shiro included, used to play together when we were little."

"I see….you three were close…."

"B-but I'm sure Aki must have a thing for you!"

"Eh?"

"I-I mean it's not like you have a thing for him! I-It's just that Aki hasn't changed ever since! H-he's v-very c-considerate, really! Eheheheh!" she blurted.

"O-oh….."

"A-and besides, Aki's a good guy! U-unlike Shiro!"

"S-shiro…"

"A-ahh..I shouldn't have mentioned him! S-sorry. I should…stop panicking too much."

"It's….alright."

There was an awkward silence. The two of them stood for a long while. The flickering street light above them made repetitive buzzing noises and the tree leaves and bushes resounded with the blowing wind. Kyoko, unable to bear the long silence, calmly says " I'm glad I got to see him again. I wonder how he's doing. Shiro, too. Even though I've caught glimpses of him whenever he visits you, we haven't had a chance to talk for a while. Mistress, I'm sorry for what happened between you two!"

" It's alright." replied Hana. "By…the way, you said Shiro wanted money but he really likes me. Do…do you, know why?"

"W-why? I don't know….but he has his reasons! I'm sure of it! I-I m-mean w-why else would he go after such a beautiful girl like you?"

As Kyoko said that, tears fell from her eyes. "I-it's…n-not what y-you t-think" she said. "H-he…..S-shiro….he…."

More tears fell upon her face. "Kyoko….." Hana held her hands in sympathy. "I'm sorry….Don't cry…."

Kyoko wiped away her tears and tried to put on a smile. "I-I'm okay. Sorry for crying so suddenly." She smiled, but it could easily be seen that she was in pain. "A-anyways, we should get going! It's already dark! Head mistress is waiting!"

She began to walk when Hana grabbed her hand. "Wait…"

Kyoko turned around. "What is it?" Hana hesitated for a moment and than said "About Shiro….he's treated me harshly, so it is impossible for me to believe…..that he will treat me kindly someday. If what you say is true…than I believe you. But….I don't love him. I've…already vowed to never fall in love again. As for, Mr. Mori…..he's been very kind to me. In fact….he's the first person who's ever shown so much kindness in my life. I think….he's very important to me. I feel like….he's my….very first friend."

"Seems like he understands you. Aki's always been a generous and helpful person. Sometimes, his selfless actions would go out hand."

"He's..that kind?"

"Yes. He is. I wonder….if thats why he's become a psychiatrist." she smiled. "We should get going."

"Ah. Y-yes!"

Mrs. Tanaka was furious. After Shiro had informed her and her husband about the "psychiatrist" they've hired, she's become more aware of the security of their home. What if that man comes and rob their fortune? That was what Shiro had planned to do. Or, what if he tried to reveal their secrets to the public? That would be even worst. As Mrs. Tanaka worried, Kyoko and Hana returned home.

"Hana!" she cried. "Do you know how late it is?"

"I'm sorry…" Hana apologized.

"Go to your room" she ordered. "And Kyoko, I'll like a good explanation for this"

"Y-yes, head mistress.."

Hana walked up the stairs to her room as Kyoko explains to Mrs. Tanaka of their lateness. Lying on her bed, Hana sighed. "What was I thinking?" she thought. "Telling Kyoko all that. But….I have so many questions now. Why did she cry? What did I do wrong? Is…..Shiro really a good person as Kyoko mentioned? And…I wonder….if Mr. Mori….is mad..even though I apologized…" She was deep in thought when a knock on the door shook. "Hana? May I come in?" It was her mother. "Y-yes…" Hana replied.

Mrs. Tanaka entered the room with a stern and upset look. "Hana, there's something I would like to tell you"

"W-what is it?"

"About that psychiatrist we've hired for you," she said. "Shiro came over a few days ago and told me and your father about him. Saying he abused him in front of you. Did something happen?"

"E-eh?! He…..well, I just….happened to bumped into them…"

"And? What happened?"

"They…argued…"

"About what?"

"I….don't know…."

Mrs. Tanaka sighed. She mumbled something and than said "Was there violence involved?"

Hana didn't know what to say. If she said yes, it might cause trouble for Akito, and Kyoko would worry. If she said no, than her parents would not trust Shiro anymore and disregard him and Kyoko would also worry. After all, those two seem to be important to her. "N-no…." replied Hana. "There was no violence."

"Is that so? That man does seem quite mysterious if I don't say so myself. " Mrs. Tanaka said. "However, if there was no violence than Shiro must be lying. That untrustworthy peasant. He won't be welcomed in our estate no more. "

"B-but-"

"But what?!" she shouted. Mrs. Tanaka was frustrated. Her face was filled with anger. "Clearly, Shiro is up to no good. I don't want anything to do with him! Understood?!"

"U-understood…."

"One more thing. About that psychiatrist, Mori Akira; I would advise you to approach with caution. I feel uneasy whenever I see him. If he does anything to you that disrupts our family's reputation, there will be consequences."

Mrs. Tanaka leaves and shuts the door hard. Hana lowers her head in guilt. "I don't think….Mr. Mori sounds that…dangerous at all. And if Shiro can't come anymore….than Kyoko will be sad. I don't….want that."

Both Kyoko and Akito had been very kind to her. Although she has only spent a few moments with them, she felt as if she wasn't alone no more. "I'm always…the one being comforted. I'm so useless." she thought. "I wonder what do they think of me."

As she layed on her bed, she thought back on all the things that had happened: Meeting her psychiatrist in the music store, Kyoko's relationship with him and Shiro, and her tears.

Who was telling the truth? Kyoko or Shiro? And what about what her mother said? Was it true? Should she be more cautious? Hana closed her eyes and covered her face with her hands. "I….don't know who to trust." she said to herself.