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Lilly Epilogue; Part One

mehkanik Jan 31st, 2013 3,779 Never
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  1. Lilly Epilogue, Part One:
  2. The Courier
  3.  
  4. It's been a few years since graduation. A lot of my time has been spent trying to get a grip on where my life is. It feels... surreal, honestly.
  5.  
  6. After I rushed to the airport that one day, Lilly stood with me.
  7.  
  8. Until I'd recovered. Apparently she could disobey her father enough to make sure I was alright, but not enough to stay with me. We kissed one last time and she left, promising to keep in touch.
  9.  
  10. She did, of course. Our contact became more and more desperate, though. I quickly came to learn that her father is a very bullheaded man. After learning about me, he decided I wasn't good enough for his daughter and demanded Lilly cut contact with me.
  11.  
  12. I've never heard Lilly so frustrated in my life. The calls I'd receive would be tear-filled, her voice shaking with anger that I originally thought entirely unlike her. The two fought a lot because of me, apparently.
  13.  
  14. 'Who is he to tell me, someone he sent away for years, someone he barely cared about until now, who I can love or not?!'
  15.  
  16. Her phone calls became progressively more and more calm as time went on, though. It worried me, but I stood hopeful that it meant her father was coming around to Lilly's wishes.
  17.  
  18. Then I got a phonecall.
  19.  
  20. 'Hello, Hisao.'
  21. 'Hey, sweetie. How's it been? Been a while since we talked.'
  22.  
  23. There was a silence, a deep breath, and an exhale. It sounded practiced to me. Then again, I feel like Lilly has been nothing but an actress her whole life. Always dancing around people's expectations of her, she never learned how to just do or be what she wanted to be.
  24.  
  25. I think I might've started to bring that out in her. Akira told me Lilly would never dare fight with her father like she had and asked me what I'd done to make her actually fight back.
  26.  
  27. 'I'm not going to... drag this out.'
  28. 'Hm?'
  29. 'I can't keep this long-distance relationship going anymore.'
  30.  
  31. I felt myself crumple a bit, but I wasn't going to go down without a struggle, at least.
  32.  
  33. 'What, your dad?'
  34. 'Yes.'
  35. 'Why are you giving up?'
  36.  
  37. That was the longest silence I'd ever felt until she finally spoke up.
  38.  
  39. 'Because I can't keep fighting like this. Maybe if you were here, it'd be worth it. I am fighting an empty battle for someone I can't even hold or kiss anymore. I can't keep making myself suffer by fighting with my father or making him hate me for every day I keep on this 'relationship' with you.'
  40.  
  41. What was defeat seems to be boiling over into anger, now. I just don't know what to say that won't damage things worse than they already are right now.
  42.  
  43. 'You know I love you. You are my first love.' A softer voice. 'My first time. My first kiss. The first person I felt I might be able to just...'
  44.  
  45. 'Just what?'
  46.  
  47. Another sigh. 'Nothing. I... just don't want to make you suffer, either. I hope you can move on and find someone who is better for you than myself.'
  48.  
  49. 'I'm not so sure that's going to happen.'
  50.  
  51. '...Which part?'
  52.  
  53. 'Either.'
  54.  
  55. A soft laugh from a girl who's on the verge of tears.
  56.  
  57. 'You know I'm sorry, Hisao.'
  58. 'I am too.'
  59. 'You understand why I have to do this?'
  60.  
  61. 'Better than you think. I just don't agree with it. And I'm not giving up on you. I didn't when you tried to leave, I'm not going to now that you're gone.'
  62.  
  63. No response, but I can hear her quietly crying.
  64.  
  65. 'Thank you for everything. I love you, Hisao.'
  66.  
  67. I wish then that I could've been mad, that she could've done something to send me off the handle, to hate her. Make this break more clean.
  68.  
  69. I was broken for a long time. Hanako really helped stitch me back together. She lives with me in my apartment, kept me from holing up for days on end. I would've probably gotten fired from my job or just wasted away in a dark room.
  70.  
  71. She gave me a better idea, instead.
  72.  
  73. 'When you told me wh-what she said, there was one thing th-that really stood out to me.'
  74. 'Being?'
  75. 'If you were here.'
  76.  
  77. "If I were there..." It's a funny phrase, thinking about it now, looking out the window of an airplane. I got a vacation from my teaching job after saving up. A little help from Akira and Hanako have me on my way to doing what I can to fix things.
  78.  
  79. Here I come, Scotland.
  80.  
  81. This airplane is a private one that Akira got me onto. She's got plenty of connections apparently, being a lawyer for an influential international business. I wonder if Mr. Satou knows that I'm taking one of his private planes to go steal his daughter away from him. It's an enjoyable irony.
  82.  
  83. Hanako gave me a few books to read during the flight. They're on English and some phrases in Gaelic. They apparently don't speak much Gaelic in Scotland anymore, but it's worth knowing, she told me. 'Just in c-case', she tells me.
  84.  
  85. I've already read both probably twice, at least once during this flight itself. That's not even counting all the other language books I've read already. Hanako's practically fluent in English, mainly because of her love for literature.
  86.  
  87. I think I should do fine, if people can ignore the fact that I likely have a heavy accent.
  88.  
  89. I stop one of the stewardesses as she passes by, deciding to attempt some English.
  90.  
  91. "Excuse me, do you know how long until we... ah, reach Scotland?" I have to put conscious effort into the Ls in my sentence, but I believe my intent is well-conveyed. English feels so unusual compared to the language I've grown up with.
  92.  
  93. The woman smiles and nods.
  94.  
  95. "We should be arriving in about an hour." My heart leaps a little. Only an hour? Looking down, it does appear we're starting to fly over parts of Europe. I snap a few photos, as I have been during most of the flight. Hanako says she's always wanted to travel, so I'm going to upload a few of these to her when I get off of the plane.
  96.  
  97. So after a couple years, I'll finally be seeing you again, Lilly. I wonder how you've been. How you're doing. I wonder if you're happy.
  98.  
  99. I wonder if you still miss me.
  100.  
  101. I sort of space out the remainder of the flight until the pilot announces that we'll be touching down soon in Inverness' airport. Akira said there'd be someone waiting there to drive me to the Satou residence on the outskirts.
  102.  
  103. She said she'd drive me herself, but she was tied up with current affairs in the Satou's company. It's no big deal. Hell, I'll hail a taxi if I have to. I don't intend to let anything stop me.
  104.  
  105. After getting off of the plane, I carry the parcel I'm delivering and grab my backpack from luggage. It's got a few day's worth of clothes in it. I'm intending to stay longer, but I'm planning to look like that's not the intent.
  106.  
  107. After heading towards the main lobby of the airport, I see a man in a suit standing there, holding a sign and looking somewhat displeased with himself. The sign reads 'Mr. Nagai'.
  108.  
  109. Nagai. Sure isn't a far-call from my actual name. I'll have to make a mental reminder to tell Akira to work on her subtlety.
  110.  
  111. Approaching the man, he looks me up and down.
  112.  
  113. "You tha' chinese boy I'm 'sposed ta pick up for Miss Satou? You even speak English?" He fishes a piece of paper out of his pocket.
  114.  
  115. "Ay...go... hana-say-mas-oo ka?" A brave attempt, but it sort of falls flat.
  116.  
  117. I squint at him. "I'm not Chinese." I inform him.
  118.  
  119. "Ah, whateva. You do speak English. That makes this easier on me. Tryin' to blend in there, kiddo?" He points at the newsboy cap and the argyle sweatervest I'm wearing.
  120.  
  121. "...I always liked argyle. The hat was Akira's idea. I think I like it, actually."
  122.  
  123. "Hoo, boyo. That accent's gonna kill me all day. Maybe you shouldn't talk, if possible."
  124.  
  125. "Whatever floats your boat." I tell him in Japanese as he leads me to the car. After getting in the back of the black sedan, the man looks back at me. He's actually wearing one of those little Scottish pom berets, which conflicts pretty heavily with his suit.
  126.  
  127. "So, what's in the box?"
  128.  
  129. "I thought you didn't want me to talk?"
  130.  
  131. "Indulge me curiousity, child. I ain't give a pish about what's innit, but these drives are dull as can be."
  132.  
  133. "Books for Lilly Satou from her friend in Japan."
  134.  
  135. "Aye, that the blind one? Must be special books, with that braille somesuch."
  136.  
  137. "Yeah. Are you a driver for their family?"
  138.  
  139. "Not usualleh, just some nobody driver Miss Satou sometimes charters. Said she didn't want the family especially involved in your transport, fer some reason."
  140.  
  141. Probably so they don't get a handle on who I am before I arrive.
  142.  
  143. The drive becomes silent after that and I spend most of my time taking snapshots out the window, much to the driver's irritation.
  144.  
  145. "Cannae stop actin' like a tourist when yer in me car?"
  146.  
  147. "I dinnae think I can." I respond. The driver chuckles. "Ah, yer a fresh little goon, ain'tchae?"
  148.  
  149. I can't help but laugh at his speech. Maybe I should've looked up slang and Scottish vernacular. For having known Lilly all this time, I figured that all of Scotland would be formal and refined. This guy seems like a middleaged blue-collar bar brawler to me.
  150.  
  151. "Ye laughin' at me?"
  152.  
  153. "If I am?"
  154.  
  155. "I'll go back there and smack ya in the fizzog."
  156.  
  157. I'm struggling to maintain a straight face and quell my own laughter. "Alright, alright."
  158.  
  159. Eventually, I'm dropped off at the Satou manor. Honestly, I was expecting some kind of wooden building, but I'm greeted by what looks like a modern day castle -- it's crafted from stone and looks like it took forever to build.
  160.  
  161. It's a far-cry from the cities of Japan, these hillsides and manors. Even the city of Inverness was far bigger and seemed a whole lot different than what I'm accustomed to.
  162.  
  163. It really feels like I've stepped out of real life and into some storybook setting. It's beautiful, honestly. Almost bitterly, I could understand why Lilly came back here. I don't think the cramped spaces of Japan really stack up to natural beauty like this.
  164.  
  165. I exit the car, shaking the driver's hand. "Thanks."
  166.  
  167. "Nae danger. Ah, 'no problem' to ya normal English speakin' folk." He shifts into reverse to back out of the manor's cobbled driveway, but pauses.
  168.  
  169. "Ah, also -- try not to mess up in there, kiddo. Go get yer hen back, aye?" He winks at me and then drives off. Did Akira tell him about what I'm here for? I moment of unease settles into me as I wonder who else might know. Ah, who cares. I'm this far, no point in getting cold feet now.
  170.  
  171. I approach the front door and take hold of a large iron knocker. I guess they don't do doorbells here, either. Slamming it into the front door a few times, the thuds seem to echo through the house. Much louder than I though, I guess that's why there's no doorbell.
  172.  
  173. "Be there in a moment," A woman's voice calls out. The door is pulled open a bit, a blonde woman staring through the somewhat ajar door.
  174.  
  175. "And you are...?"
  176.  
  177. I'm stunned for a moment. I believe this has to be Lilly's mom. They're almost identical, except in age and hair style. Lilly's isn't quite as wavy as her mother's, which is borderline curly with how many waves are in it. They even seem to have similar tastes in clothes, being a light dress. Though her mother's also wearing a tartan wrap around her arms with the dress, which is unusual to see.
  178.  
  179. "Hibiki Nagai, I'm a courier for Akira Satou. I was commissioned through her by a Hanako Ikezawa to deliver a parcel to your daughter, Lilly Satou?" The woman smiles at my english. I've practiced this sentence more than any other.
  180.  
  181. "Ah, your English is very good." She tells me in Japanese, putting on a warm smile as she opens the door further, inviting me in. "Likewise with your Japanese. We both have our accents, though." She giggles a moment at my comment, closing the door behind me. "Akira mentioned in passing that she would be sending someone over. Lilly isn't home, however -- would you like to just leave the package with me?"
  182.  
  183. I shake my head. "Respectfully, I'd have to decline that offer. I was told to deliver these books directly to Lilly's hands. It's why I was hired, regular mail isn't completely reliable. If you give me a time she'll be back, I'll just walk to the nearest inn or hotel and stay there until later."
  184.  
  185. She shakes her head. "No, no no. We have guest rooms, you're free to wait here if it's that important to Hanako. She's always been a good friend of Lilly's, so I don't mind."
  186.  
  187. Well, this is turning out much easier than I anticipated. I spend a few moments wandering around the main hall. They have a number of paintings lining the high walls. "Impressive home..."
  188.  
  189. "Must seem needlessly large to you, hm? Lilly's father tells me Japan is a very cramped country, because of its population density and small size." I nod. "Some of the older folks back in Japan would probably call this wasteful. I think it's pretty amazing, honestly."
  190.  
  191. Lilly's mother seems to beam at this. "Ah, where's my manners! I entirely forgot to introduce myself. I'm Mary Satou. It's rare to get visitors, so I get so caught up in wanting to talk I forget my manners sometimes."
  192.  
  193. I smile, waving off the notion. "Nae danger." I tell her. She gives me a peculiar look. "Are you familiar with this country too? Being a courier for my daughter must have you all over the place. What do you do for her, normally?"
  194.  
  195. I laugh. "Ah, I'm not too familiar with Scotland. I just heard the phrase from the driver who brought me here. I usually deliver sensitive documents for Akira, though. Related to court cases and all that. Things you don't want multiple copies of and the like."
  196.  
  197. Mary folds her hands. "Ah, so Akira must really trust you, then?" I nod. "I suppose so."
  198.  
  199. "So where is everyone? Seems awful quiet for such a large manor." I try to change the topic before my storytelling starts to seem thin.
  200.  
  201. "Ah, the housekeepers are probably taking a break, as they've well near cleaned everything in the manor thrice over. Akira, Lilly and my husband went out for lunch." Mary leads me through the hallways, to a sitting room where I can smell fresh tea. French vanilla, by the smell.
  202.  
  203. How I've missed this smell. I haven't had the heart to have a cup of tea since Lilly left.
  204.  
  205. "Care for a cup, Mr. Nagai?" Mary, much like her daughter, has a poise and grace to her that I find impressive. "That'd be nice, actually." She pours a small cup for me and then one for herself.
  206.  
  207. "Do you have any other jobs aside from being a courier?" Mary asks. I nod, taking a sip of the tea. Before I can answer, a wave of nostalgia and heartache washes over me as I taste the tea. Putting it down, I smile a bit.
  208.  
  209. "Delicious." Leaning back a bit, I respond. "Yes, I teach a bit when I'm not traveling." Mary seems to be more interested in this than the average person. I'm not sure if it's because she's too polite for her own sake or if she's actually interested.
  210.  
  211. "That must be difficult, considering being on-demand to deliver documents for my daughter." I nod. "Sometimes. I'm a substitute teacher so I sort of pick and choose when I'm teaching. I get a lot of calls from different schools too, so I'm not exactly short on work in any case." Mary smiles with a nod of her own after sipping her tea.
  212.  
  213. "That's good to hear."
  214.  
  215. Conversation drifts away from me and into idle chitchat, mostly about the manor, Mary's family, her garden and other little things. After a while, the loud sound of a door opening and closing fills the quiet manor.
  216.  
  217. "Mary, we're home." I hear a man's voice call out. Mary smiles, standing up and flattening out her dress. "Ah, now's your chance to deliver that parcel like you've been asked." I nod, gulping in silence. It's been so long.
  218.  
  219. I wonder if she'll recognize my voice?
  220.  
  221. No time to be flimsy, time to steel myself. Following Mary out into the main hall, I meet my arch-nemesis for the first time. Mr. Satou. Satou Industries CEO and owner. The person who plucked the sun right out of my skies.
  222.  
  223. It's unsurprising that someone like him is related to Jigoro. I met him Jigoro once after I went fishing with Lilly, Akira, Shizune, Misha and Hideaki. He didn't leave a good impression on me. The fact Satou is related to him and has effectively ruined my relationship with his daughter isn't going to help me pull any punches.
  224.  
  225. Still, I need to smile.
  226.  
  227. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Satou." I say in English. I don't want Lilly to recognize me just yet. Akira's already grinning at me as I firmly shake his hand. "Hm. Good handshake. I don't recognize you, though." I let go of his hand, tapping the parcel I have underarm.
  228.  
  229. "Ah, I'm one of Miss Akira's document couriers. She suggested I help Miss Lilly's friend deliver some books in braille to your daughter."
  230.  
  231. "Feel free to speak in Japanese. I still remember the language, son. Your name?"
  232.  
  233. "Hibiki Nagai." Akira damn near laughs at the little psuedonym I'm going by. Hearing my voice in Japanese, Lilly's confused face seems to light up in a mix between excitement and horror. She's completely silent, which fuels a devilish smile that I'm desperately holding back.
  234.  
  235. "Well, here's your package. It's a little on the heavy side, Miss Lilly." Lilly's closed eyes open for a moment, as if she hopes that opening them would allow herself to actually see me.
  236.  
  237. "Ah, thank you... Mr. Nagai." She pauses, placing a hand to her chin in thought. "If it's heavy, would you mind carrying it to my room for me? I need a hand to follow the guardrail and carrying the package would be a bit troublesome."
  238.  
  239. "Absolutely, Miss Lilly."
  240.  
  241. "I'll have one of the servants carry it, I don't know this man." Mr. Satou says. Mary immediately chimes in. "Ichiro! Don't be rude to our guest, he's a nice boy. We were having a pleasant conversation earlier, I don't think he's untrustworthy at all." I have to admit, Mary's accent in Japanese is adorably unusual.
  242.  
  243. Ichiro, huh? His parents were really generic in naming those two. First and second son, respectively.
  244.  
  245. Ichiro is inspecting me, much like I am him. He's wide-shouldered and a bit taller than Jirou, which is a bit daunting. His hair is dark blue, combed neatly back. He wears tidy beard, unlike Jigoro's caveman appearance. His eyes remind me of Akira's, I guess that's who she takes after in appearance, although she has her mother's hair color. He folds his arms. "Fine." I guess he doesn't care for not getting his way, but I have a feeling that Mary manages to tell him what to do.
  246.  
  247. I follow Lilly through the manor quietly, her hand just briefly skimming the walls every now and then. She must have every nook and cranny of this home memorized, considering she isn't using a cane to help guide her way.
  248.  
  249. Following a flight of stairs, she leads me to her room. I place the parcel on the nearby dresser. "What did Hanako send to me?" Her voice is more stern than I've ever heard it. I'm surprised she hasn't asked what I'm doing here. Her room's what I'd imagine it to be. A large comfortable bed, some books, an ornate dresser and armoire, a few potted plants -- all neatly kept.
  250.  
  251. "Some books in braille that she'd like you to read, and a personal letter." I untie the string around the parcel and open it, handing her the slip of paper written in braille. Even though I can't read it, I know what it says. Rather, I know what the most important line says.
  252.  
  253. 'You taught me that I shouldn't run from things, maybe you should take your own advice too. Love, Hanako'.
  254.  
  255. "Why are you here, Hisao?" She hisses at me in a whisper.
  256.  
  257. I step towards her, taking one of her hands. "Do you remember what you said to me on the phone? 'Maybe if you were here'," She tries to pull away from me.
  258.  
  259. "Hisao, you... you... moron! You should've fixated on the 'moving on' part, not be a hopeless romantic and do something crazy like this. How did you even get here?" She asks. I place her hand to my face.
  260.  
  261. "But that's what you like about me. I'm a hopeless romantic. Aren't you, too?" Her expression softens a bit.
  262.  
  263. "What if my dad finds out who you are?"
  264.  
  265. "You never told him what I look like, right?"
  266.  
  267. "No... he never wanted to hear about you. You're a taboo topic in this home, Hisao." I pull her closer to me by the hip. She places her other hand to my chest, trying to stop me.
  268.  
  269. "Hisao, no." But then she feels my heartbeat. It's racing.
  270.  
  271. "It's been a long time, Lilly."
  272.  
  273. "I know." Her hand feels across my face, looking for any apparent changes since our last meeting. "You seem more tired than usual."
  274.  
  275. "Hard to sleep without you." She playfully 'slaps' me on the cheek. It's more like a soft tap. "Sh, none of that."
  276.  
  277. "I still love you." Her face is twisted by the statement.
  278.  
  279. "I..." Her hand's resistance against my chest weakens and she allows herself to be pulled closer to me.
  280.  
  281. I don't let her say anything that might interrupt this moment and instead kiss her.
  282.  
  283. Her lips tremble on mine, her breath shuddering. I get two passionate, longing kisses before she pulls away.
  284.  
  285. "I can't, Hisao. I really can't."
  286.  
  287. "That's just what your dad's making you think, Lilly."
  288.  
  289. "That's because it's what my dad thinks. That you're not good for me. That you could die at any time, that you're weak, that you don't have good enough income --"
  290.  
  291. "Does any of that have any effect on your happiness?"
  292.  
  293. No response. That's because there isn't, Lilly. You're putting on a mask, doing a dance for the people who have always expected that of you.
  294.  
  295. "I'm going to burn down this little theatre that your dad's stuck you in, Lilly. If you won't stop the act, I'll make it end."
  296.  
  297. For once in her life, she doesn't deny that she's playing a part in a play that her father's had planned out for her. She has plenty of times during my stay in the hospital and my pleads for her to fight against her dad for the only time in her life.
  298.  
  299. "And how do you intend to do that? This isn't something you can just make happen, Hisao."
  300.  
  301. "You'll see." I tell her, leaving the room. Her face is red, she's flustered. I can hear her huffing away behind me as I leave her bedroom. She's never like this unless I'm around, which is good. I'm tired of her pretending. I want her to do what makes HER happy, not everyone else.
  302.  
  303. Arriving back in the main hall, Akira and her father are talking about me. Akira's explaining that I'm one of her couriers that she doesn't have on the payroll, because of the nature of the sensitive documents I transport. I already have my new smartphone out, browsing some internet page to be convincing.
  304.  
  305. "You've been paying him under the table? If any of the tax departments realize --"
  306.  
  307. "Aww, c'mon. You know me better. Plus, who's going to mess with Akira Satou? I sure wouldn't. No one's going to make a fuss, I prooomise."
  308.  
  309. "Ah, here's the wonderboy courier I've never been informed of, even though I'm the owner of the company you work for. Now that you've delivered your package, you're going to be on your way, I imagine?" He asks me.
  310.  
  311. "Yes, that was the plan. The next outgoing flight to Japan isn't for a week or two, so I guess I'll just hole up in a nearby inn and take in the sights. Not often I come here to Scotland. Do you have any good suggestions?"
  312.  
  313. "It's a long walk to any nearby inn, is Akira going to drive you?" I look to Akira. "No, no. I won't trouble her more than I already have. I had to ask her to organize a private plane to make a stop in Japan so I wouldn't have to wait a month to get here."
  314.  
  315. I put on a smile. "I'm more than alright with walking, if you give me some directions. Also, thank you for the hospitality and the tea, earlier." I bow a little to Mary.
  316.  
  317. She seems a little troubled by the concept of me walking an undetermined amount of miles back to Inverness to find a place to stay for a while. I was banking on this exactly.
  318.  
  319. "I don't like that idea. What if someone in the city gives you a hard time, because you're a foreigner?" I laugh, stretching out my arm a bit, putting on my best 'tough guy' impression. "Ah, I'll be fine. I've got a good bit of fight in me."
  320.  
  321. Akira chimes in. "I don't think 'a bit of fight' will be good enough for the tavern dwellers of Scotland, Hibiki. They've got more hair on their chest than you've got on your head."
  322.  
  323. I shrug. "Ah, whatever happens happens. Have a good evening!" I call out as I make for the door.
  324.  
  325. "Wait, Mr. Nagai! We have guest rooms, why don't you spend some time here until you've got a flight arranged? I wouldn't feel comfortable knowing you're out there alone in a city you don't know and that I could've helped."
  326.  
  327. I pause, turning around. "Well, it'd be impolite to object. If it's alright with Mr. Satou here, I'd be more than willing to oblige."
  328.  
  329. Ichiro seems to chewing over the concept.
  330.  
  331. "Mmn. Yes, it's fine I suppose. I don't need one of my employees getting murdered at a bar. Only until you find a plane back."
  332.  
  333. "Absolutely. I appreciate it, Mr. Satou."
  334.  
  335. I turn the smuggest smile I've ever worn towards Lilly, the love of my life. She can't see it, but I'm sure she can feel it in the tone of my voice. And it shows on her expression.
  336.  
  337. I give a curt bow to the Satou family.
  338.  
  339. "I look forward to getting to know you all during my stay."
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