Summary: After an accident, it's not just her appearance that changes. A different girl returns to the town she grew up in with only finding her ex-best friend on her mind.
Word Count: 3,691.
Pairing: Kyouya Hibari/Chrome Dokuro.
It happened all to fast for me to comprehend completely. I'd knocked onto the door and received no immediate answer, so my brain had told me the next best thing to do was to peer in the window from a safe distance. It turned out that the distance wasn't safe at all. I'd locked eyes with someone instantly, a stranger with no recollection as to who I was. I recoiled, surely my expression falling, as I stayed routed to the spot with theories running through my head.
All of the times I'd imagine returning to my home town, they had never quite ended up like this. I was never on a familiar porch with a stranger inside, nor with their curious eyes focused on me. When the door finally opened, I gulped—not from nerves like I'd originally thought it would, but rather in anxiety.
My hand unconsciously clenched into a fist. Ryouhei had taught me how to throw a right hook. He would've been proud if he saw me preparing myself at that moment.
“If someone doesn't open the door,” they started, the look in their eyes close to murderous, “that indicates that they don't want to buy anything.”
I stayed glued to the spot. “I'm not selling anything.” The urge to spit out sir just to appease him was there, but I resisted. The male in front of me wasn't old enough to have been addressed as such; he was in his teens still—the uniform clearly indicated that—with ebony tresses that fell into his eyes. “I have the wrong house.”
But I didn't. The nameplate was the same as I remembered, the white clay pots containing different flowers still beside the iron gate whilst there was ivy on some of the house. The tree I'd once climbed had been reduced to a stump, the wall that acted as a fence seeming to be smaller than ever. I knew that I had grown, yet I'd still hoped that nothing would have changed. The male standing in front of me, gripping the door in frustration, was evidence that nothing remains the same.
The male gave me a once over, moving to close to door as he said, “Get going then.”
“I'm sorry,” I apologised to him and myself, too.
I had been expecting too much. All families had the right to move, a childhood promise wasn't going to keep them there at all.
As I was treading carefully on the ground, cursing that the boots I was wearing had a slight heel, I fished the cell phone out of my pocket. My throat felt hot and swollen as I placed the device against my ear, calling the first person I could think to.
“Kyouko,” I whispered, distracting myself by placing my free hand in my coat pocket. I played with the fraying material within the inside. “Kyouko,” I repeated, hearing her breathing on the other end. “I got here safely.”
“Emotional from the smell of your home town already?” She laughed. The musical sound that was normally comforting wasn't working at that moment. I leaned against the front of my new home—the unfamiliar one that was nowhere near where I had used to live—and closed my eyes.
“That and I'm wearing the shoes you told me to,” I answered softly, a small smile across my lips.
“The boots? Nagi, I told you you'd look great in them.”
“I still can't walk in them, you know.” The memory of stumbling along the train station was still fresh. “And my feet are rather cold.”
“I bought you many pairs of fluffy socks,” she pointed out. “Why are you not wearing them?”
I glanced down at my outfit again, shaking my head in amusement. “I'm wearing two pairs. It's not like the city, Kyouko.”
Kyouko was the closest friend I ever had, and the first one I had when I moved to the city. She had linked her arm through mine and practically taken me under her golden wing. I had moved halfway through elementary school, so there were already groups formed within the school and I'd left everyone I had ever known in my life. My best friend was miles away at that time, so I was nervous about how different it would be. The first thing I had noticed was how my accent was different to others, and that my hair colour was, too. Purple wasn't a usual colour.
Also many had odd views on towns and villages, much like my friend did. “Are there cows on your doorstep?”
“No.” I chortled. “No, there are not.”
“Oh.” She sounded deflated from having expected a real cow to have actually been there. “Well, at least you can look pretty with lots of layers on.”
“Kyouko.” I breathed slowly, evenly, thinking how to bring up the topic properly. She was purposely straying from the topic we both needed to talk about as it was the only reason that I was where I was. With the back of my hand I brushed the bangs that were covering one of my eyes. “I met them. They're nice.”
“...Is your room nice?” she asked hesitantly, concerned.
“It's nice.” The room was painted a light yellow with white furniture including a desk and chair, along with a dresser and mirror, while the bed was a double. Before I'd came along, I was sure that it was the guest room from the neutral colours. “Nice and yellow.”
“You hate yellow,” she whispered so quietly I'd only just heard it. “And the family?”
They were just how I'd remembered them. At least, what I could remember of them. The Sawada family were a blur in my mind, a nice blur, though. Nana had embraced me the moment I was on her doorstep, ushering me into the home and introducing me again to her son. Tsunayoshi had always been the same age as me, but back when we were young we had never been introduced. I'd seen him across the playground sometimes, but never knew that it was him.
My throat was feeling hot again. “They're lovely.”
As always, Kyouko proved that she knew me more than I thought. “Then why are you outside, Nagi?”
“I was getting reacquainted with the area.” It wasn't fully a lie, but enough of one.
“Get your butt inside that house,” she demanded, though I could hear the smile in her voice, “and just know I'm here if you need me. Ryouhei, too.”
I smoothed the hair over my eye again, flinching as I felt fabric against my skin. “I know,” I croaked, shaking my head as my throat started to feel tight, “thank you.”
“All right.” I laughed, purposely taking a step towards the house. “I'll talk to you later, Kyouko.”
Once my heart had calmed down enough for me to realise that I could clearly see my breath in the air, I walked through the doorway and had just taken my scarf off when Nana had emerged from the kitchen. “Nagi,” she greeted, “dear.”
With a flick of my head, my bangs were covering my face even more.
“Did you visit your old home? It's still for sale now, so it should be fine if you take a look inside.”
The thought of going back to where I once lived, to see where I had sat down before, surrounded by my family, made my eyes become irritated. There were tears surely prickling there and Nana had noticed as any words she was going to add had died in her throat.
“Honey, I didn't...” She cleared her throat, unsure. “I think I smell burning. Dinner will be ready soon, if you'd like to join us.”
“I'm not hungry,” I confessed as she strutted back into the kitchen, smoothing the wrinkles out of her apron. Nana had always been there with baked treats when I was young, I'd been told, and offering them graciously to me when she had visited. She was a sweet lady.
By the time I was lying down on the guest bed—my bed—I had my eyes closed and was playing with the small doll within my hands. It was a tattered bunny with part of the left ear missing, but it was still important. Other than Kyouko, there had been one more person who had been close to me. A male, that time, he had been the one I'd spent most of my time with. We'd been together since kindergarten, although he was a year older and therefore not in my class, and from how small the town was, we were able to bump into each other often. I smiled fondly as I thought back to the times where I'd been taken aback from how I could see him from the corner of my eyes on random occasions.
It had taken us a couple of years to get past bickering; or, rather, him not liking my presence, before we'd naturally spend time together.
“You're not similar to me any more,” I announced, holding the rabbit above my head, “shall I fix this for you?” My fingertip brushed against the right eye, trembling.
I had to consider myself lucky that the Sawada's were my godfamily since I didn't have to sit within social services or an orphanage to see what would happen to me. A letter from Nana came rather quickly and with the money that was inside I took my chance to leave the city. The only ones who had a chance of stopping me were Kyouko and her brother; they were familiar and what I considered safe, but there were still not what I needed.
Now that I was where I needed to be, I had a home, school and clothes to put on my back.
When there were three quiet knocks on the bedroom door, I jumped and automatically stilled.
“Nagi?” a soft voice asked, pushing the door open. Tsunayoshi looked just like the photo Nana had shown me when I stepped within their home. His dark hair was a disarray upon his head whilst his expression was an open book. “I thought I'd introduce myself.”
“Tsunayoshi,” I acknowledged with a nod.
“Tsuna, please.” He smiled softly. “My mom only calls me my full name when I'm in trouble.”
“It's nice to meet you after all these years.”
He scratched his neck, glancing around the room before his eyes landed on my suitcase tucked into the corner. I hadn't unpacked. “I guess we just never got the chance to speak in the past.”
“It's okay,” I answered, resisting the urge to slip back into my memories, “we had different friends.” The plural wasn't necessary for me.
“Yeah, we did,” Tsunayoshi agreed with a smile. “Have you had a chance to see them again?”
“No,” I confessed, glancing to the side. My glaze landed on the rabbit on the bed and instinctively, I pulled it closer to me to fiddle with. “Not yet. Do you think they'll be in our high school?”
“You've already signed up?” He blinked before gathering his thoughts. “There's one high school around here that's co-ed; the other one is only for girls.”
“I guess I never really paid attention as a kid.” I couldn't hold back my small smile of relief. If I had ended up in the all girls school, there was no doubt that I was going to be even more unhappy than I already was. Just because I was able to get along well with Kyouko didn't mean I was fine with others. The fact that I'd been actively taught self defence didn't usually go down well, too. “I'll try not to get in your way.”
With a smile, he chose to see a different meaning to my words. “No matter how far away you stand, I'll still be able to trip over, or into, you.”
“Same right back to you, then.” I laughed openly.
Tsunayoshi was nothing but a gentleman to me. He was kind enough not to ask any questions, and when he was avoiding a topic he'd wrinkle his nose in an attempt to think quickly. If he made a slip up, and saw how I'd flinch at his words, he'd apologise with his eyes rather than with words. If I had known how he was, I would've befriended when we were young so it was less awkward for us at that moment. He told me the most ridiculous of stories, ranging from antics from when he was but a child to ones that had only happened to him that very day. He made no fuss that I preferred to keep my stories private. Tsunayoshi seemed to understand me and the odd sense of humour I displayed sometimes.
I tried my best to help out around the home although it was against Nana's wishes. She'd usher me away with a smile, stealing the laundry basket from my hands or gently pushing me away from cooking dinner. Nana was doing everything to make me comfortable within their home, even going as far as to make pancakes the first morning that I was there.
We all quickly fell into a silent agreement, knowing which topics were a taboo and should not be mentioned whilst I was in the room or in hearing distance. I knew that they'd be contemplating about my health, whether I was depressed or not and analysing any habits I had. It was the natural thing to do, and I couldn't blame them. My parents had made the right choice when they'd chosen my godfamily.
Nana had finally agreed to let me help her around the house. I was dusting the pictures upon the mantel when I stopped to inspect the pictures. My eyes stopped on an unfamiliar one. Nana was the main focus of it along with a blond-haired male that had his arm snaked around her waist, his lips pressed softly onto her temple.
“That's Tsunayoshi's father,” Nana announced, appearing out of no where, “Iemitsu.”
I jumped guiltily from being caught snooping. “I'm sorry.”
“It's perfectly fine, dear.” She smiled warmly, leaning forward to tap the picture fondly. “Handsome, isn't he? He's in a better place now.”
“Somewhere warmer?” I supplied, hopefully. Death was too much of a sensitive topic as the smell of the hospital back in the city was still clear in my senses. I could clearly remember waking up there and what had happened afterwards.
“Oh, yes.” Nana busied herself cleaning. “Closer to the sun now, he is.”
I flinched. “I'm sorry.”
“I'm fine explaining everything,” she assured me, soothing rubbing my back before wiping the rest of the frames. “He was a great man. Of course, you know that already. Just look at Tsuna.”
“Yes,” I agreed genuinely. “Tsunayoshi's a great person.”
“He'd be blushing from head to toe if he heard that.” Nana chuckled. “It's nice to see that he has a girl at home now,” she said jokingly, winking at me. “Are you ready to face school next week?”
I'd been there almost a week and was dreading the thought of high school. I would be in my second year and intruding on any groups of friends that there were. I was a transfer so for any groups, I would be shoved into and have to deal with it. The only hope I had was that Tsunayoshi would be in my class, but then that would be intruding, too. He hadn't introduced me to his friends as far, but he certainly had told me tales about them.
Gossip spread like wildfire within Namimori. I knew this, and yet I had thought that I might have been a special case and therefore left alone. There was a slim chance that no one had caught wind that I had returned, alone, and was missing a crucial feature.
“Nagi,” Nana called, softly, clutching the hand that I had raised to my face, “don't listen to anyone out there, okay? They don't know the full story.”
Neither do you, I thought. “Okay.” I was the shiny new toy for them; or, rather, the toy that had returned after going to get fixed. “I'll try.”
“You can try and get Tsuna to man up and protect you if not.”
I laughed softly at the image. Tsunayoshi was far too timid to fight someone, much less on a regular basis. “I know self defence,” I assured her, still smiling, “a friend taught me back at... home.”
If Nana had noticed how my voice cracked, she didn't say anything. “This can be your home, Nagi.”
We continued as if the conversation hadn't happened.
Kyouko was having a fit over the details I was telling her. As soon as I'd said that there was a fox passing the house, only briefly, she'd shrieked and asked me to repeat the sentence to see whether she'd made it up.
“There really was a fox, Kyouko!” I insisted, glancing out of the window within the living room to see the street. It was empty of any neighbours or strangers walking past, and I had a clear view of the houses there. The road was still unfamiliar to me. “You wouldn't even believe me if I said I saw a deer, would you?”
I shook my head at her answer. “I was lying. I've seen no deer yet.”
“Yet!” she repeated hysterically. “Are you living in a shed in the woods somewhere?”
“Sure.” I laughed. “There are no random campers living with me, though. I'm all alone with this fox for company.”
“Ryouhei and I will be there with you,” she promised, “soon.”
My cheeks became hot from her words. “How could you possibly fit in my shed?”
“Well you need someone human to keep you company,” Kyouko teased. “How's the family?”
“They're nice, Kyouko,” I confessed with a hushed voice, “really nice. They're both more than I had hoped for.”
“Both? Well, you've mentioned the mother but not the son all that much.”
She broke the mood immediately as I closed my eyes in amused exasperation. “Don't you dare waggle your eyebrows at me.”
“Oh, come on, Nagi.” Kyouko was definitely grinning. “You're sixteen! You have to be interested.”
“Good bye, Kyouko,” I sang.
On the Sunday before I had to go to school I found myself venturing outside of the house. Although Tsunayoshi had offered to go with me, I politely declined as I knew where my feet were going to take me.
The nameplate really hadn't changed. I hadn't been imagining it on the first day that I'd arrived back and that time, as I stood just beside the clay pots and the low fence, I wanted to get to the bottom of things. The only one I wanted to see was my friend from my childhood; one of the last people I still had memories with.
I knocked on the door softly, stuffing my hands into my coat pockets after.
Once the door opened again I locked eyes with the same male as before. I could see, clearly, that they still held the same irritation in them as before and that his expression did, too.
He arched an eyebrow. “Not selling?”
“No,” I clarified. The heat of my cheeks was either from the cold weather or embarrassment. “I'm looking for someone.”
The curl of his lips showed his distaste. “Get a phone book.”
“Wait, please,” I asked as he went to close the door. The male scowled at me before slamming it shut, causing me to flinch. He didn't give me the time of day and there was no doubt that he had heard the gossip by then. “I blame you,” I murmured as I traced the material over my right eye. Even if that was him, he wasn't going to recognise me immediately.