As the title indicates, this is Part 6 to an ongoing series. If you have not read any of the Love Letter Lovelies series (especially LLL5) or Small Crush, you will be completely lost. This is the type of story where you have to know the world in order to get what's going on. Many characters and plot lines get elaborated on or resolved in this story and it can not be read without context.
Also, Jessica Perez is a character created by Sailor Jane. She is an honorary Lovely who has peppered my stories before, but is not a character I invented. To read more about Jessie in her own adventures, visit Sailor Jane's FictionPress page and read the Fiona Five Stories.
Love Letter Lovelies 6:
It had been a long journey, traveling from Tokyo to the train station in Nikko, but Makoto Ozawa was excited. Their location was a small village, just up the mountain and about 40 minutes away from her childhood home of Yumoto. She had been there many times, but more so in her adult life. As she was a nurse in the Shibuya District in Tokyo, she often found herself departing off the train at Tobu Nikko Station to meet her family in the country. Tonight was one of those times.
Traveling along side of her was her older sister Nori Akiyama and her new best friend Saki Okada. Unlike Makoto, the girls weren't bouncing in their seats with excitement as the train made it's arrival. They were sleepy and exhausted from the day's travel. It could be quite a journey, and if Makoto wasn't so happy, she might have been miserable too. The compartment they were in stunk, and Saki had unfortunately had stomach problems after she ate a dodgy looking lunch offered on the train.
All of that didn't matter, though. They were home, and the moment she had been waiting for had arrived. It had been set back a few times because of work schedules, terrorist attacks, and nursing a friend overseas, but they finally were doing it. After a year of waiting, Makoto and her wife Kaede were going to have a proper wedding ceremony.
The two of them had gotten married officially a year back in an unromantic Shibuya court room. Back then, so much was going on. Kaede was still filming her first television show, Makoto was helping out the Vanir-victims in the local hospital, while starting her nursing apprenticeship for Dr. Fujisawa. It was a chaotic time, and the small wedding of two country girls almost seemed like a footnote of that chaotic year. Yet Makoto and her high school sweetheart had indeed gotten married, and legally as well.
Since the ceremony was lackluster, both of them had agreed to have a proper wedding in the future. The problem was that the future never came. Kaede had become a sensation in the acting world while Makoto took a month off from her studies to travel to Oxford in order to help along a friend recover after the events of Mythical Mirage Online. When Makoto had resumed her work back in Dr. Fujisawa's clinic, Kaede had decided they had waited long enough. The wedding was going to happen at the end of the year, the world be damned.
This suited Makoto just fine. While she had already been a blushing bride, she wanted her moment. Yes, it was selfish, but after the year they both experienced, it was time. It would be one last hurrah before they had to commit fully to being adults. They'd return home and finally finished what they had started back in High School, in the place where it all began.
Makoto turned around from the window just long enough to gaze at a pale looking Saki. Besides being sick, she was having issues of another sort. All through out the day someone kept texting her. Each time Saki ignored it, having a hurt look on her face. Makoto had been polite and hadn't asked about it yet, but this was the 7th time, and this time she caught a glimpse at the name on Saki's phone.
"Rei Koboyashi…" Makoto read out loud.
Pulling her phone away from view, Saki gave Makoto a fake smile. "Hey, stop being nosy."
"Is that your friend, the one you had a fight with last year?" Makoto asked, recalling the tall busty woman she met only once. At the time Rei had used an excuse of returning Saki's school things as a reason to talk to her former friend, however Saki shot her down. Now, it seemed, Rei was trying again.
"It's nothing. I'm ignoring her."
Feeling concerned, Makoto tilted her head and gave Saki a meaningful look. "Don't you think you need to resolve your issues with her already? It's been long enough."
"It is resolved." Saki said cooly. "I'm cutting her out of my life. She just hasn't got the picture yet."
She might say that, but Makoto knew different. For one thing, she kept that box of items that Rei had given back to her that day. For another, she still had Rei's number unblocked. Maybe Saki's pride had prevented her from acting, but deep down there was a small sliver of something that couldn't forget Rei completely.
"Hey now…" Nori interrupted the moment. "…don't you get into nurse-mode."
"That's right. This is supposed to be your moment." Saki chimed in. "You don't need to fix me… I'll sort things out on my own."
She was about to argue, but both of them had made their mind up. This wasn't the time or the place for this. They knew she had waited for so long for her real wedding and they both were determined to make it as special of a time as possible. Knowing the pains her sister had gone through to arrange most of the holiday, Makoto relented. Saki's problems could wait until after the Honeymoon.
The train started to slow down, which was a good point for Makoto to shift her attention away from Saki and out the window. The country side had been familiar up until now, but now it was really starting to feel like home. She could see the train station coming closer. Soon they were pulling into the platform. Like a kid, she was back to the window, pressing her hands on the glass and looking out at the people awaiting for travelers.
"Oh! There's Mio-chan! I think that's her anyway. Wow, she's changed, but I can totally see her!" Makoto spotted a wedding guest.
"Mako-chan, sit down." Nori pushed her younger sister back down on to the train compartment seat. "We're still moving!"
"I think I see Dad!" Makoto ignored her sister and was pressing her nose closer to the window.
She heard Saki give Nori a chuckle. The two, no doubt were exchanging exasperating looks. She didn't mind though. She was finally home!
Once the train had finally stopped, the three of them collected their bags. They then cued up behind the small moving mass of travelers and waited their turn to exit the train. Once on the platform, Makoto dropped her suitcase and looked around for her Father. She spotted her Mother first, and made a dash towards her. Startling her somewhat, Makoto's arms wrapped around her in excitement. Her Mother just laughed at her daughter's enthusiasm, but hugged her all the same.
"I see that." Her Mother let her go. She peered over Makoto's shoulder and spotted her other daughter. "Has your sister been giving you trouble, Nori-chan?"
"Always." Nori joked.
"Nee-chan!" Makoto complained, but then spotted her father. Within seconds she leaped into his arms and hugged him too. "DAD!"
"Goodness!" He greeted her with a hardy laugh. "Hello Mako-chan."
"Hi Dad!" Makoto let him go, then turned around and introduced her parents to Saki. She couldn't remember if they had met her before or not, as Saki had been at the court wedding, but she thought it was just safer to re-make those introductions.
"Traveling all the way up here for the wedding, huh?" Her Father kindly asked Saki.
"I wouldn't miss it. I arranged some time off with my Coach so I could make it here." Saki explained. Everyone knew that she was an Olympic swimmer. "Besides, Mako-chan so excited I think she could stop the earth's rotation even if she wanted too. If my Coach said I couldn't come, I don't know what she'd do!"
"You're not causing Okada-san trouble, are you?" Makoto's Mother asked seriously this time.
"Always." Saki repeated Nori's joke.
After some more chit-chat, the parents helped the girls with their luggage, then headed for the parking lot. Her father's old Minivan was waiting for them. Seeing it caused both her and Nori to exchange looks and giggle out of nostalgia. Even though Makoto had offered to buy him a new car earlier in the year, he still stuck to that old clunker from the late 90s. It was both silly and cute at the same time.
"I received a phone call from Shiho-chan earlier today," Her father spoke as he drove down the mountain path smoothly, traveling towards Yumoto. "She said Jessie's plane arrived safely, so they'll be on their way soon."
"Jessie?" Saki asked. The swimmer had met Shiho Inoue, Kaede's pseudo-sister, maybe once before, but didn't know who Jessica Perez was.
"She's Shiho-chan's girlfriend." Nori explained. "She lives in the States... Washington, I think."
"She's really nice." Makoto told Saki, measuredly. "It was her idea for Kaede and I to get married and was the first to support our decision to move to Tokyo."
"I don't know if I should thank her for that." Makoto's Mother both joked and complained. She didn't like that both of her daughters lived so far away from home. Then again, what parent would.
"I'd imagine Jessie might need some time to recover from that long flight." Nori reasoned, then glanced back at Makoto. "Don't expect to see them tomorrow, baby-sis."
"I know that!" Makoto pouted, remembering that the three of them had technically arrived early. Because Dr. Fujisawa was generously giving her time off, Makoto thought she'd spend a few days with her parents before the actual event.
"Does Yumoto have any swimming pools?" Saki asked, curiously.
"We do, but probably not as nice as you're used too." Makoto's Father told her. "People mostly come to Yumoto for our hot springs."
"There's the lake, if you're not comfortable with the pools, though this time of year it's bound to be freezing." Nori recalled.
It was indeed cold. Since they decided to finally get married at the end of the year, it was close to Christmas. Makoto had always wanted a Spring Wedding, but she wasn't about to complain about that small detail when she finally was getting what she wanted. Besides, that just made Christmas all the more special. It would be both a Holiday and her wedding anniversary. Perhaps it wasn't the same date as the court wedding, but she felt that this memory would be better than the one of a rushed wedding during a crisis.
"Oh... this town is lovely." Saki commented when the Akiyama's drove off the mountain trail and into the township proper. Makoto knew that Saki had went to High School in a small town herself, so she was partial to quaint little places like this. Unlike Ugo however, Yumoto was a resort town.
"Some people would say it's crazy for a local to move away when so many people want to vacation here." Makoto's Mother said.
"Mom..." Makoto moaned.
"I'm just saying." She laughed slightly.
"I, for one, can see the appeal." Saki ignored the overbearing mother, gazing out the window with a smile on her face. "Maybe when I retire, I'll move here."
"You'd leave me?" Makoto nudged her jokingly.
"No. I'd drag you back home so you can be with your Parents."
"I knew I liked her." Makoto's Mother laughed again.
The group arrived at Makoto's childhood home. It always made her body feel lighter on arriving here, as if the memories of childhood made her feel younger again. She was only 21, of course, but after seeing the things she had seen as a nurse, getting married, and having to deal with Kaede's new public life, Makoto felt older than she was. It was nice to come back here and be a girl again.
It took a good few minutes to unload the van and get everyone situated. Saki would take Nori's old bedroom, as she was a guest, while her older sister would share Makoto's room. Saki had protested, saying that the bride needed a room of her own, but Makoto didn't mind. She'd have a room with Kaede once they all moved to the Ozawa Inn for the ceremony. On entering her old bedroom though, both she and her sister stopped and stared in awe at the white wedding dress hanging over Makoto's closet door.
"Whoa..." Nori whispered. "Seeing it here really feels like it's real, huh baby-sis?"
Makoto nodded, gazing at it.
They had, of course, bought the dress in Tokyo. However that was months ago, and afterwards Nori had shipped it to Yumoto for safe keeping. It seemed their Mother had taken the dress out of storage, pressed it, and prepared it for the actual event. Makoto gazed at it as if she had just seen it in the shop where they purchased it from. It was a western style white dress, shoulder-less and form fitting until the layered skirt flared out at the thighs. The satin underlay made the ivory laced overlay really pop, from the contrast of two whites. It looked both sexy and elegant at the same time, but when combined with the long gloves Jessica had bought her and long laced veil provided at the shop, it enhanced the dress majorly.
"Do you think I'll still fit in it?" Makoto slightly panicked now. "Maybe I gained weight."
"You're fine." Nori reassured her. "But... I would like to see you try it on. We didn't have the gloves or the veil last time..."
"Put it on, sweetheart." Makoto's Mother and Saki apparently were peeking in at the door.
Giggling, Makoto invited the others in, shut the door, then undressed. The other three women helped her into the dress, as it was a nice squeeze, however they all had the same smile on their faces. She knew, without being told, they were living vicariously through Makoto in this moment. Her Mother was probably remembering her own wedding, while Nori and Saki were imagining theirs. Once she had everything on, she stood in front of the full length mirror and gazed at herself, seeing the others transfixed reactions behind her.
"You're so beautiful, Mako-chan." Saki was the first to speak.
Her Mother started crying, which they all knew was coming. They all could see the parent in her beaming with pride for her baby girl. She laughed at herself, but couldn't stop crying on seeing Makoto standing there like that. Nori hugged her, starting to cry herself, which opened the flood gates for everyone else. Makoto went to hug them, but they pushed her back, reminding her she was in an expensive dress. As make-up was flowing, they had to be careful. It was both touching and funny at the same time.
"Okay... I need to take this off before we start a flood!" Makoto sniffed, trying to hold in her own tears for the dress's sake.
Saki, agreed, patted her eyes, then went behind Makoto to unzip her.
It took about as long to remove the dress as it did to get in it. They all were laughing at how clumsy Makoto was being, joking that she needed to figure out how to be graceful for Kaede on their Wedding night. Maybe her Mother didn't want to hear that, but she still laughed along with everyone else.
"Where are my daughters?" Their Father called in a fake longing voice. "I'm lonely!"
"Oh hush!" Her Mother rebuked with a chuckle. "We're having a moment!"
"I want a moment too!" He complained like a child.
"I'm coming Dad!" Makoto laughed again. "Just let me get some clothes on first!"
"What are you doing in there?" He wondered, though it should be obvious since he probably knew that dress was hanging over her closet door.
Her Mother rolled her eyes, then exited the room first to calm him down. In the meantime, Saki and Nori rehung the dress while Makoto tried to find her discarded bra. Once dressed, the three of them looked back at the hanging gown again, all with smiles.
"Kaede-chan hasn't seen you in this, has she?" Saki asked.
"Nope." Makoto told her. "She wants to keep the western tradition of not seeing the dress until the wedding."
"I noticed that she ignored the part that she's also not supposed to see the bride." Nori smirked.
"Yeah...well... we're both brides, so it cancels each other out." Makoto reasoned.
"Two brides." Saki mused. "That should be interesting."